Analogue Music | You can’t be a 30-something singing like you’re…
Pretend Like

Pretend Like

Artist: Michael Flynn · Written by Maria Edwards

Date Released

1 May, 2018




33 minutes

You can’t be a 30-something singing like you’re fresh out of high school and naive to most things.

And that is one of the more challenging aspects of being an artist; accurately reflecting life’s changes and your personal growth through music.

Charleston-based musician Michael Flynn has been coming to terms with fatherhood and other major life milestones while also working on his solo work. (You can hear his vocals in the band, Slow Runner.) He knows he can’t go on singing about girls anymore given his “married man” status, but, despite this series of uncertain events, Flynn is confident, and that confidence manifests itself in his recent releases.

Flynn’s newest endeavor is an album titled Pretend Like. It stems from trying to solve the problem of “now what do I sing about” by focusing on the twists and turns that life throws right as everything is not making sense. It’s filled with orchestral drives (“Great Gasp” has to be my favorite off the album, hands down) and a strong look at society through macro and micro lenses. 

"Professional Network" is particularly interesting in its satirical tone and general demonstration of skill. It relies on the phrase, “I’d like to add you to my professional network” to create the theme, cadence, backbeat, and drive for the entire song. And it’s a poignant reminder to anyone who is caught up in the hopeless selfishness of this modern age. Honestly, how often do we choose to interact with someone just for the chance to connect with them on some digital platform? It’s no wonder this sort of social habit is so easy to make fun of nowadays, when we’ve gotten so selfish that our initial thought upon meeting a person is how their professional status can be used to boost our own.

But then the album gently prods at your ears and mind thanks to Flynn’s calm vocal presentation. “Greater Charlotte,” a song that initially reminds you of a little section of the North Carolina city, becomes a piano ballad that keeps up a quick, trotting pace that carries through the whole track. Imagine the voice of Andrew McMahon with the vibe of most of (500) Days of Summer: “You never know how the dark gets in you / years later you’re still shoveling out the smoke / is this a joke.” Flynn croons out lyrics in a measured, steady voice that never wavers no matter the content. Tension is crafted through the words and piano chords. It’s strangely reassuring to hear how he sounds more in control than what the lyrics lead us to believe: “Before you went away / you went and rearranged the contents of my chest.”

How often do we choose to interact with someone just for the chance to connect with them on some digital platform?

“Church Clothes” has some of the strongest basslines to come off any track this year. It’s a  moving piece that somehow doesn’t overdo the church/God theme. It’s the comedic relief of Pretend Like. If everything else is in a state of shifting, claustrophobic chaos, Flynn’s love for the woman in the song is the guiding light he uses to see through the darkness.    

Michael Flynn is proving to anyone who wants to listen how it’s possible for a musician to learn from life and grow in his or her work. There’s no reason an artist has to feel trapped within what they’ve done and what they want to do. Pretend Like wouldn’t exist without Flynn’s desire to keep searching for content that fits his current life position. How else could we be blessed with a song about him wanting a woman with her church clothes on?