The Gaslight Anthem released probably one of the greatest albums of modern music in 2008 with ‘The 59 Sound.’ It was perfect in just about all the right ways, and to this day, remains probably a top album ever. Four albums deep, more mainstream success, and some opening slots with Bruce Springsteen later, and we have ‘Handwritten’ released July 20 2012.
Handwritten is like a call to the “old school.’ Innocent naivety was enjoyed, and deep contemplation was necessary though never without companionship. Handwritten has all the excellent lyrical adventures we undergo with front man Brian Fallon. All intact, all resonating with those who see their rock and roll stagnant.
The Gaslight Anthem do so much right here, it’s hard to take a fault and make it anything more than a mild shrug. Handwritten is not their best album, though it is by no means their worst (2010′s odd misstep called American Slang has that title). Handwritten has some absolutely fantastic pieces of music, one of the best being Mulholland Drive which showcases an excellent vocal hook alongside some tear-inducing lyrics. Too Much Blood is a true jam, and paired next to Howl, it shows that the band still know how to rock all too well even after Fallon’s largely acoustic output in the Horrible Crowes side project.
Mae is easily the best song, and one is hard-pressed to find any doubt in this “opinion.” it begins elegantly and lyrically poignant, eventually recoiling into itself after a series of brilliant chorus’ all capped by tight instrumentation and beauty.
A new album by Gaslight Anthem, even just a good one, is worth rejoicing. Because as I look one way and the other, whether in the bright sunny afternoon or under the sulking moonlight with my dated 45 skipping in the background, I find such admiration, respect, and wonder encased in every lyrical drop and ode to times of the past. The group knows how to craft excellent songs, just not 12 of them every two years. And that is perfectly OK. Yet for those few great songs, a few don’t hit so hard. Those being Keepsake which is too sullen for it’s own good, Here Comes My Man which hits all the lyrical marks without ever being all that interesting, among others.
The band adoringly place their influences for wide display too all. They continue crafting integral lyrics among time-honored traditions of simplicity and the past. Whatever they do from here on out, let’s be satisfied that someone is holding the torch, because if they aren’t, who the hell is?
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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