Chris Farren
Born Hot
Oct 11, 2019

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On his Polyvinyl debut Born Hot, Chris Farren opens with a question he’ll spend much of the album trying to answer: Why do I feel out of place in my own outer space? Telegraphing his inner narrative with a childlike candor, the Florida-born artist lays bare his most intense anxieties and—in the very same breath—documents the mildly soul-crushing minutiae of everyday life: the strange indecency of blasting AC/DC bangers through an iPhone speaker, the inexplicable bleakness of a Starbucks franchise tucked inside a Target. But with his irrepressible sense of humor and utter lack of self-seriousness, Farren defuses the pain of even the deepest insecurity, gracefully paving the way for pure pop catharsis.

On Born Hot Farren fully embodies the sensitive-goofball dichotomy found in all his work, especially his exuberant live show: a solo performance in which he plays to live-recorded backing tracks while projecting purposely wacky visuals (his own face duplicated thousands of times, text that reads “ANOTHER PERFECT SET” at the end of each closing song). By the same token, Farren went full-on tongue-in-cheek in choosing Born Hot’s title and cover art—a crudely drawn self-portrait that captures him lounging shirtless, looking every bit the ’70s-pop Lothario.

“In my lyrics there’s so much self-examination that teeters on self-loathing, and I like to juxtapose that with an aesthetic that’s completely the opposite,” says Farren. “It’s a defense mechanism, because I feel embarrassed talking about my feelings so very plainly, but at the same time I also just find the idea of having that much self-confidence really funny.”

In the making of Born Hot, Farren recorded in his L.A. apartment and worked entirely on his own, embedding his inventive take on classic power-pop with flashes of folk and punk and ’50s doo-wop. On “Love Theme from ‘Born Hot,’” he slips into a sunny synth-pop reverie, bringing bouncy rhythms and radiant synth tones to a heart-on-sleeve message of romantic determination. “I wrote that when two different couples in my life were splitting up, and I felt kind of rattled but also so lucky to have my wife,” says Farren. Moodier and more darkly charged, “Search 4 Me” reveals his struggle to live in the present, articulating his anxiety in pieces of fragile poetry (e.g., “And you glared at me so loudly that I burst into confetti”). And on “Surrender,” Born Hot turns exquisitely melancholy as Farren details the specific hurt of a sudden friendship breakup. “I was friends with their ex, and they told me it was too painful to stay friends with me,” Farren recalls. “‘Surrender’ is about that feeling of wanting to respect someone’s wishes, but also missing that person and just wishing you could talk to them again.”

Elsewhere on Born Hot, Farren shifts from exacting introspection to more outward reflection, exploring life-changing matters like the recent death of his father-in-law and his wife’s experience of the ensuing grief. In each moment on the album, he instills his lyrics with the resolute sincerity he’s embraced since immersing himself in songwriting at the age of 17. Originally from Naples, Farren formed his first band when he was 18, later teaming up with songwriter/musician Jeff Rosenstock to co-found the indie-rock duo Antarctigo Vespucci. In 2016 he made his solo debut with an album called Can’t Die, and soon began dreaming up the outrageous spectacle of his live set. “I love being able to entertain in that way,” says Farren. “It’s one of the rare times when I feel confident, just completely in the groove.”

Despite the fleeting nature of that confidence, Farren’s music ultimately nudges the listener toward greater self-acceptance—or, at the very least, a more pronounced patience with their own messy feelings. “When I was younger I wanted people to listen to my music and think I was good at making music—now I couldn’t care less about that,” he says. “I just want people to feel good, like they’re understood or less alone, because that’s what the music I love does for me. I want people to come away feeling like, ‘Oh good—I’m not the only one who feels like this.’”

Songs

  • 1
    Bizzy (2:39)
  • 2
    Love Theme from “Born Hot” (2:38)
  • 3
    Search 4 Me (3:04)
  • 4
    Too Dark (3:41)
  • 5
    Domain Lapse (3:08)
  • 6
    Does The Good Outweigh The Bad? (3:10)
  • 7
    I Was Amazing (3:03)
  • 8
    R U Still There? (2:34)
  • 9
    Surrender (3:08)
  • 10
    Space In Yr Love (2:55)
  • 11
    Floruit De Maga (3:09)
  • 12
    Credits (3:38)

Reviews

"A tongue-in-cheek exploration of ideas of confidence and self-loathing."

Stereogum

“'80s synths, glittery power chords, and bombastic hooks that he sings with the swagger of a pop-punk king and the tenderness of John Darnielle."

MTV

"Born Hot is built around his voice and guitar, with flourishes of synthesizers and programmed drums. It’s a really fun record, with sweeping choruses that will bury themselves in your head for days to come."

Uproxx

"Born Hot can best be described as aphrodisiac synth-punk."

FLOOD Magazine

"Born Hot seeks to emulsify dour themes with vibrant, rousing beats. The melodies on Farren’s record feel precisely and ornately crafted, each one providing the infrastructure for a certain aura, whether exuberant or coasting."

The Alternative

"Farren writes remarkably candid pop-rock songs about self-loathing and depression during which he ceaselessly refers to himself as a monumental failure. But the version of himself that he presents publicly, both onstage and on social media, is that of someone who's tremendously self-absorbed and ludicrously confident."

MTV

"...the phrase “Born Hot” is incredibly overconfident – and very absurd. The record, however, sees Farren being incredibly self-deprecating and vulnerable and insecure, opening up about depression, grief, and lost friendships."

Substream

"Farren sicks his knack for writing sincere pop tunes on the big life-changing things that have happened in his life since [his debut album] Can’t Die hit the streets."

Creative Loafing

"Despite being filtered through rocking guitars and an upbeat dance tempo, the track is on the sulky side. Lyrically, a theme of social anxiety arises, as Farren sings, “And you glared at me so loudly that I burst into confetti.”"

Stereogum on "Search 4 Me"
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Videos

  • Love Theme from “Born Hot” (2:57)
    Kevin Long
  • Search 4 Me (3:58)
    Clay Tatum

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