Vancouver musician Adam Kirschner embodies a sad persona under the name Noble Son. His second album is called Life Isn’t Fun and the title is a good indication of some of the bleak topics you can expect.
The man has a background in the performing arts and doesn’t appear to shy away from displaying a quirky and funny personality on his social media. It’s even apparent on the album’s cover that he’s not here to take himself too seriously.
While his music follows a sad-song formula that seems far removed from his happy personality, it still feels a part of his character. The character somewhat like a sad clown, the music being the frown behind the painted smile.
The album was produced, engineered, and mixed by Erik Nielsen (We Are The City, Said The Whale) and is largely an alternative folk project. Most of the songs have an acoustic guitar backbone with flourishes of synths and keys.
And it’s a wonderfully put together album. Opener “Sleepin’” appears to be in regards to a friend who can’t seem to get over a man. It walks the most steady beat of the bunch and has a harmonizing hook, Kirschner telling his friend, “Fuck it, we should be sleepin’.”
He shares his anxieties throughout the album, from desires for affection (“Love Love Love”) to the fears and regrets that come with aging (“Life Isn’t Fun”).
Closer “Slim to None” is a poignant social commentary on modern times. It’s a fitting conclusion to an album that looks at the sad realities of our society.
“The internet’s boring and joy has become/Slim to none,” Kirschner sighs over slow piano and distant steel guitar. It’s like the modern world’s advantages aren’t enough to satisfy anymore.
The song takes the album to its climax amidst swelling guitar and drums as he asks, “What’s a lonelysome creature expected to do?” Of course, he answers himself with, “slim to none.”
“Sad, Dumb, Lovesick Young Kid” feels like the song to introduce someone to Noble Son with. The self-deprecating sing-a-long has that campfire appeal and is the most memorable melody.
“Be Right Back” is one of the more enjoyable tracks, seemingly about a woman who doesn’t feel mentally fit for a relationship. Moving at a slow pace, the beat with the soft thudding snare and rising synths brings up similarities to fellow Canadian act Timber Timbre’s “Velvet Gloves & Spit.”
And speaking of similarities, “Tired, Old Republican” pulls out the organ for some wonderful Blue Rodeo vibes during the outro. The song itself feels like it’s voicing fears about a mundane lifestyle.
He reaches one of the album’s most refreshing moments on “Ruin My Life.” An almost humorously bleak song about having “nothing else on the go” and “pretty much waiting to die.” It seems like it’s written about a baby girl who he hasn’t met yet but he invites to ruin his life. The refreshing moment comes after the 2:10 mark as he leads into a crash of synths with a bunch of “oh oh oh”’s on repeat, a playful and unique inclusion.
Noble Son has put on quite the performance with his sophomore release. He walks the line between Father John Misty and Death Cab for Cutie with his dark lyrical wit and soft pop taste.
He’s not really here to make you feel good but you may just find yourself having a chuckle at some of the outright depressing lyrics. Without trying to steal from the seriousness behind any of these topics, Noble Son seems to have a way of making these distraught songs feel a little more light-hearted.