As frontman of The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon already has five studio albums under his belt and multiple festival and headline tour performances. So when the band announced a hiatus, it is no surprise that Fallon went on to continue with musical endeavours and release his debut solo album Painkillers.
The album opens with a barrage of drums entering into ‘A Wonderful Life’, a light hearted anthem nostalgic of Fallon’s prior work with The Gaslight Anthem. The first half of the LP echoes this, with many tracks sounding like a collection of B-sides or new-album material which have instead been repurposed following the hiatus. ‘Among Other Foolish Things’ makes superb work of backing vocalists to perform harmonies with Fallon’s smouldering voice, whereas ‘Steve McQueen’ is eminent, showcasing his crooning vocals and a compelling string section. As the album progresses the tone diverts, becoming more up-beat and clear-cut. ‘Red Lights’ and ‘Mojo Hand’ parade a more distinct and jaunty rhythm, notably the latter, reminiscent of gypsy-esque folk and bluegrass. The LP finishes with ‘Open All Night’, a track that leaves one desperate for more, with banjo-infused melodies and wailing guitar work. Perhaps this is a hint of further solo-work by Fallon?
Fans of The Gaslight Anthem would doubtlessly appreciate this LP as many songs harken back to Fallon’s previous efforts. However, he is able to deviate from his origins and explore new fronts, and Painkillers is very much a stepping stone along this path.