sun 19/11/2017

CD: The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

CD: The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

New Jersey's other favourite sons mix big rock choruses and wistful intimacy

The Gaslight Anthem: even the artwork seems to scream Classic American Rock Band

Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem’s heart-on-sleeve frontman, would be the first to tell you that there’s nothing complicated to it: big songs with tons of heart; love and death and the last light of fading youth, all to the accompaniment of your favourite songs on the radio. Inspired in no small part by hometown heroes (let’s get the Springsteen references out of the way early, shall we?), the New Jersey band’s major-label debut ramps up the big rock choruses, but retains an intimacy through its wistful lyrics and Fallon’s bruised vocal delivery.

Lead single “45” delivers a typically anthemic opening but, appropriately enough, it is the title track that sets out the album’s manifesto. “It travels from heart, to limb, to pen,” Fallon muses of his feelings for the object of his desire. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the band’s style - earnest, but so heartfelt as to remain on the right side of hokey.

Musically the band seems to hone, rather than stray too far from, a formula that has served it well over three previous albums. “Keepsake” adds squalling guitars and a bit of grit to the mix, while “Too Much Blood” channels the raw emotion and visceral energy that distinguished Fallon’s Horrible Crowes side project, last year, from Gaslight’s more radio-friendly latter two albums. “Howl” is a perfect two-minute shooter of all the things that make the band great - a hey-ey-ey refrain and the vibrant imagery of a doomed relationship - and you’ll be nodding your head and humming along to “Biloxi Parish” after the album’s 40 minutes have faded.

It’s not the best thing the band have ever put their names to - literally, in the case of artwork that seems to scream Classic American Rock Band, best played on vinyl. Songs like “Here Comes Your Man”, while still satisfying, seem to tread near identical melodic territory to some of the highlights of 2010’s American Slang, and young “Mae” with her Bette Davis eyes and mother’s party dress is a bit of a Gaslight-by-the-numbers heroine. Altogether, however, this is a solid summer record packed with plentiful slivers of greatness.

Watch the "45" video below


Comments

Another 45 listens later I would like to go back in and give this the extra star, pls. I'm such a professional.

At first listen i was disapointed, it was to be the highlight of my year (apart from seeing them at leeds) but it didnt feel ground breaking to me like previous gaslight albums. Maybe thats as much my fault as theres, not being as much if a awkward disfunctioning teenager as i was when i had sleepless nights waiting for american slang. But second and third listen were a pleasure, gaslight back on form. (apart from the bonus track silver by navana, not a fallon style song)

Oh, that's a shame! I haven't had a chance to listen to the bonus tracks yet - just bought them last night.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters