Iowa based Christopher the Conquered’s first full-length album I’m Giving Up On Rock and Roll, released May 13, is made up of personal lyrics, powerful vocals and theatrics that are hard to match to any of his contemporaries. While listening to the album, one can often draw parallels to Elton John and Billy Joel, while the lyrics, drawing upon universal themes and experiences, are occasionally reminiscent of Ben Folds. Despite these attempts at drawing parallels, in the end, the sound is uniquely that of Christopher the Conquered, leaving the listener sold from the first track.
The nine-track record opens with the song “I’m Giving Up on Rock and Roll,” complete with powerful vocals reminiscent of Allen Stone and gospel-like background singers, before slowing down to only Christopher’s voice. Christopher has explained that the song ultimately is about giving up on the idea of living behind a facade and misrepresenting oneself, adding that the person he wants to be onstage is the same person he wants to be offstage. Ultimately, one begins to see the truth behind this sentiment in the lyrics throughout the album.
In the second track, “Mystery,” Christopher sings: “I’ve been thinking a lot these days about how life’s not really real/We all wanna believe it’s there/but it’s just this thing meant to conceal/The fear we have about our end and what it’s gonna do with us.” With lyrics such as these, he perhaps emphasizes a universal feeling many have experienced but do not often articulate.
In the following song, “On My Final Day,” Christopher highlights the realization — or fear — of what people will say once he’s gone. He sings, “I just tried to share what I found to be the truth/But no one wants to listen when they know they know it, too.” These seem to be the key lyrics to the album, continuing the lyrical themes grounded in shared experience and struggle.
The middle of the album slows the tempo down, sidestepping previous themes to discuss love and relationships. The song “Everybody Rains,” stands out because of the upbeat piano and positive feeling it creates in the listener, blending thematically with the following “Be A Good Person.”
The album ends on a humorous, tongue-in-cheek note with “I’m Not That Famous Yet.” Lyrically, this album is memorable due to its honesty, while its sound feels simultaneously retro and contemporary.
Christopher the Conquered is currently on tour in support of his latest release. He has two New York dates: Aug. 4 at Mercury Lounge in New York City, and Aug. 6 at Amityville Music Hall.
Key Tracks: I Guess My Heart’s Out of Tune Again, Everybody Rains, On My Final Day