Winter 2016 may have already brought us the album of the summer. Brian Fallon has put together a dream team of musicians for his solo debut. Painkillers, released on March 11th on Island Records, was produced by Butch Walker in Nashville. The album begs to be played at a loud volume with the windows down on a long summer cruise. The songs feel like old friends that you haven’t heard from in a while. You’ll be singing along the first listen, I promise.
Last summer, Fallon’s rock band, The Gaslight Anthem, announced a hiatus. After several major releases and thousands of shows, they were taking a break. The public didn’t know, but at that point, this solo album was already in production. “I wanted to make an album that makes me happy,” Fallon said in an interview with Kerrang. The Gaslight Anthem’s last album, “Get Hurt” was certainly the darkest album released by the band. This album feels like Brian growing up, and moving on. The Gaslight Anthem will hopefully return soon, but this album will keep the public occupied in the meantime.
“Painkillers” begins with a drum roll, and launches in to the lead single, “A Wonderful Life.” The wall of sound and driving beat lends itself to Springsteen’s better days. “I want a life on fire/Going mad with desire/I don’t wanna survive/I want a wonderful life.” You can almost hear Brian exhaling after the life events that led to the writing and release of “Get Hurt.” Every song on the album is short, sweet, and to the point. All clocking in under four minutes, they get right to the point, and leave you wanting more each time. If the radio were still relevant these days, these songs would fit right in the top 40 rotation.
The album lets off the gas pedal in a few spots. Tender songs such as “Steve McQueen,” “Honey Magnolia” and the title track, “Painkillers” slow things down, at some moments leaving only Brian and his guitar to sing of lost loves and wishful thinking. These songs are a nice break from the top-of-your-lungs sing-along tunes on the rest of the album, and never overstay their welcome before picking up the tempo again.
Music is meant to be fun. Everyone involved, the musicians, producers, and listeners are supposed to enjoy what’s happening. That’s why this album is special. This is lightning in a bottle from a well-established musician who needed a break from his everyday lifestyle. I was front row for Brian’s Columbus show, where the album was played in its entirety, along with songs from The Horrible Crowes, another Fallon side project. Never have I seen a group of professional musicians smile and laugh so much on a stage. In such an uptight world, this album shines through with its lighthearted and fun vibe. This is what music is supposed to be.
We may be just now entering spring, but I would recommend picking up a copy of “Painkillers” now, so by the time the windows are down and the nights are warm, you’ll know every word of the summer album of 2016.