Chris Farren – ‘Doom Singer’

By Tom Walsh

Anyone who’s had the joyous privilege of watching Chris Farren live will be forgiven for thinking that the brains behind Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci has his jovial, hilarious and uber talented musician persona down to a tee. However, Farren will readily admit that it’s only since he teamed up with Macseal drummer Frankie Impastato that he’s actually enjoyed songwriting.

Since going solo, Farren has produced an eclectic body of work from his breakout 2016 record ‘Can’t Die’ to the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist in ‘Death Won’t Wait’ and his most successful record to date, 2019’s ‘Born Hot’. Each one had been painstakingly laboured over in the most granular detail which Farren explains made him “miserable, miserable, miserable”.

Having enlisted the help of Impastato, Farren has broken out of his cupboard-sized recording studio and embraced live drumming to produce another impressive record in ‘Doom Singer’. While Farren does exhibit all the traits of a cabaret comedian in a live setting, his songs are far deeper than his jocular live shows would have you believe.

From the opening bars of ‘Bluish’, Farren laments “I don’t remember how to do this” as he strolls into a heartfelt tale of how utterly codependent he is in his own marriage. The decision to bring Impastato on board is instantly validated, the drumming patterns are just a step above everything that he’s accomplished on his previous drum-track heavy records, and the two are just perfectly in-tune with each other.

It feels like a weight has been lifted from Farren’s shoulders and he can take the strong aspects from ‘Born Hot’ and build upon them. He carries the air of a ‘60s crooner but with the backing of an ‘80s synth pop band and that just makes everything sound so fun. And yet, lyrically, it belies an unbearing of his soul.

‘All We Ever’ has him pining for the perfect version of himself and dreaming of everything that he wishes he was. During the title track ‘Doom Singer’ he takes on the role of the prophetic artist watching the world burn around them, like they’d always said would happen. That’s the finite balance in Farren’s songwriting, his whole demeanor seems to be that of the sad clown – smiling while dying behind the eyes.

Sonically, there’s some wonderful doo-wop elements on ‘Only U’ and almost lounge swing in the delightful ‘First Place’. But it’s the powerhouse lead single of ‘Cosmic Leash’ that shows Farren’s departure from his previous work. It’s a huge track driven by Impastato’s thrashing drumbeats and leads with a huge chorus where Farren bellows “change your heart, wait your turn”. It’s another tale of burning heartbreak and a desperate wanting to be loved which resonates so much.

‘Doom Singer’ closes with the agonising ‘Statue Song’. A brooding, gut-wrencher of a song which would play as the background music of a break-up in your favourite indie film. It’s an interesting decision to close on such a gloomy yet atmospheric song but it works incredibly well.

If this is Farren enjoying songwriting then long may it continue. ‘Doom Singer’ is a joyous, beautiful, heartbreaking and poignant record which will leave you laughing and crying. Now go and see him live.

TOM WALSH

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