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The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

HOW do you go about following up an album as successful as The ’59 Sound?

Well, if you’re The Gaslight Anthem, then it’s broaden your sound, draw on the factors that led the likes of NME, Kerrang! and Q Magazine to hail it as one of the best albums of the year, and add a sprinkling of The Killers and Bruce Springsteen into the mix.

The result? A kick-ass follow-up LP in the form of American Slang!

Bucking expectation, the new LP from New Jersey’s favourite sons is a barnstorming rock album that’s brimming with great numbers.

Having stepped up into the big leagues with that last album, and shared stage time with The Boss, The Gaslight Anthem appear more confident in their ability to continue to fill stadiums and have delivered some suitably majestic anthems to match their status.

The songs on American Slang – produced with the help of Ted Hutt once again – combine classic American songwriting values with elements of soul and radio-friendly pop rock. They’re rich in melody, alive with instant appeal, and driven by some terrific guitar work.

Vocally, Brian Fallon’s emphatic delivery echoes both Springsteen in his pomp and Brandon Flowers with all his extravagance.

But instrumentally, songs draw on alternative rock and punk rock elements that are both rousing and inspired.

Album opener and title track American Slang sets the standard and is defined early by its signature riff – a skyscraper in every sense that really does inspire awe. It’s capped by a memorable, sing-along chorus.

But it’s followed by the fusion of punk rock energy and classic rock values that is Stay Lucky and the foot-stompingly brilliant Bring It On… a proper anthem in waiting with more great riffs and a pounding drum loop that’s really, really rousing.

If the first three songs share a lot of similarities in terms of structure and form, however, evidence of their diversity is quickly injected with The Diamond Church Street Choir, a fun slice of soul-rock that combines a playful central riff with some finger-clicking beats and a rollicking good chorus. It’s one of the most insanely catchy rock tracks of the year that’ll have you singing along in next to no time.

The Queen Of Lower Chelsea, meanwhile, drops a Clash-inspired punk rock riff that’s similarly mouthwatering… thereby delivering yet another of the album’s many highlights.

And Orphans returns to the full-blooded American rock sound that owes so much to their love of Springsteen, belting out of the stereo in no-nonsense fashion.

Boxer bombards you with some hard-hitting, rapid-fire drum loops and guitar licks that maintain the energy, while Old Haunts even adopts a grungy feel to the guitar-work, thereby delivering another gutsy anthem.

And The Spirit of Jazz unfolds at a cracking pace to underline the stadium-sized sound and ambition of the LP… complete with radio-friendly melodies and excellent vocal delivery.

And that just leaves album closer, We Did It When We Were Young… the quiet[er] moment – a brooding, slow-burner of epic U2 proportions that leaves you with no doubt that you’ve just heard another classic album from them.

The Gaslight Anthem have, in our opinion, delivered another of the year’s best LPs!

Download picks: American Slang, Bring It On, The Queen of Lower Chelsea, The Diamond Church Street Choir, Boxer, We Did It When We Were Young

Track listing:

  1. American Slang
  2. Stay Lucky
  3. Bring It On
  4. The Diamond Church Street Choir
  5. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
  6. Orphans
  7. Boxer
  8. Old Haunts
  9. The Spirit of Jazz
  10. We Did It When We Were Young