The most embarrassing and unhinged moments that most humans pray to never find themselves at the mercy of have been the thematic bread and butter for Tyler Farr’s short career. Where most of us would hide the fact that we’re so jealous of our ex that we drove our truck up into her lawn and started whipping beer cans at her, or went for a nose dive while tipsy driving and ended up in a road ditch, or got so throwed off over some chick that you end up in your bed in a fetal position, with the only thing keeping you from sucking your thumb is the uncontrollable and violent shaking. That third scenario is the disturbed state Tyler Farr finds himself suffering from in his new single “Withdrawals.”
Tyler Farr has morphed into the hardcore emo post grunge “my dad hated me so I’m angry at the World” guy of country music, and it’s not pretty. What a bizzaro world we live in where Aaron Lewis of Stand is sitting on stools and singing fairly straight laced country songs, and Farr is all bent over like he’s taking a BM, and clasping the mic like it was his bag of jewels after getting kicked in it, writhing in emotional agony. Hey, I appreciate the gear change compared to all the happy and sunny fluff most mainstream country is composed of, but my word does this dude overload the emotional capacitors to a level that is somewhere between shameful and scary.
Of course, Tyler Farr isn’t writing any of this crap, so it’s a little hard to assign this stuff to Farr’s actual persona. Josh Kear, Gordie Sampson, Hillary Lindsey wrote this latest monstrosity, and actually, Farr only boasts three co-writes on the entire Suffer in Peace project—the three tracks buried at the end of the album at that. Dallas Davidson has just as many credits as Farr does.
In A Rolling Stone puff piece released just before Suffer in Peace, Farr was framed as doing his damnedest to keep his music “connected to its roots.” “I have got to stick to my guns. I’m passionate about country music. It’s what I love, it’s my livelihood. I’ve fought about it and I’d fight anybody who wants to fight me about it,” Farr says.
So how does Farr represent his country roots? By releasing a song that begins with a sludgy cocaine club electronic dance beat transitioning into a schizophrenic dubstep seizure. Oh, but there’s a banjo thrown in there, so you know, move over Earl Scruggs.
“Withdrawals” is a winy, unbecoming, blubbering mess about a man who loses all control of his faculties just because some floozy wouldn’t return his text messages. I swear ladies, don’t even make eye contact with Tyler Farr or he’s likely to turn into a protoplasmic blob freaking out in your front hedges. You give him a fake phone number, and he’ll fall instantly in love and be following you from work. Farr comes across as one of these guys who puts out incredible effort to emote machismo, but has the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.
Yeah, getting your heart broken sucks butt and will turn even the strongest among us into whimpering little girls. But there’s a maniacal undertone to “Withdrawals” that’s just a little bit unsettling, especially with Farr’s past history of perpetrating misdemeanors in his songs. The most criminal offense though might be the decision to have Farr sing in a higher register or falsetto that takes him completely out of his voice’s sweet spot and makes the hold listening experience seem that more unhinged.
And we’ve heard this “love like a drug” formula done so many times before, we’ve built up an ample tolerance. The marijuana reference is also dumb. So you’re saying marijuana is addicting? And you got high off your very first toke? Tyler is a apparently is a novice at drugs just as much as love.
The video reinforces all the concerns of the song, and elevates the entire experience to downright disturbing. I don’t question them putting Tyler Farr in a glass cage, I question them taking him out. When they pour in water, he looks like a blubbering baby in its own embryonic fluid crying to be put back in, and the clutching of some girl’s clothing garment smacks of obsessive compulsive psychosis. The whole thing really is pretty painful to watch and hear, and probably should come with a warning label that it could give your little impressionable ones nightmares.
It’s going to take a lot more than a little banjo and steel guitar to make this selection redeemable.
Two guns down.