The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
NEW Jersey favourites The Gaslight Anthem have long since been compared to Bruce Springsteen so it’s perhaps not surprising to find that their latest LP is produced by long-time Boss collaborator Brendan O’Brien.
The result, which also marks their first album for Mercury Records, is a hard-rocking, stadium-leaning affair packed with gutsy anthems in waiting.
Brian Fallon continues to deliver the vocals with gusto and a gravel throated style that demands comparisons with Springsteen, while the head-rush style of the guitars is steeped in pure classic American rock values.
And while the album does occasionally suffer from sounding a little samey after a while, there are enough catchy moments to ensure that The Gaslight Anthem’s continued rise should continue relatively unchecked on both sides of the Atlantic.
The highlights on this LP come in the form of rabble-rousing opener (and former single) 45, which lays down the template in unfussy, hard-rocking style to dust away the cobwebs from most stereo speakers.
Here Comes My Man is rife with crowd-pleasing melodies, sing-along worthy “sha la la’s” and some of the easiest going guitar riffs on the entire LP.
And Biloxi Parish teases with some stop-start riffs, some of which lean towards heavy, before hitting listeners with another highly melodic slice of anthem rock.
Talking of heavy, the Gaslight boys give it their all on the moody Too Much Blood, which finds Fallon at his most anguished and vocally stretched, and the guitars dropping meaty, almost metal rock riffs like carpet bombs. It also marks one of the album’s more notable changes of pace.
The other is final track National Anthem, which strips things back down to acoustic levels, and shows a tenderness that’s genuinely appealing (as well as a vulnerability). It’s the obligatory album ballad but it’s delivered with genuine feeling and kind of leaves you wishing for one or two more over the course of the album.
Mae, the track that precedes it, almost does… but is more of a brooding slow-burner, the type of which a UK act like Snow Patrol or U2 might be proud of.
No matter, The Gaslight Anthem do enough over the course of their latest LP to broaden their appeal and garner more favourable Springsteen comparisons that are sure to hold them in good stead for future popularity.
Handwritten is a fun, effective listen without ever being really explosive.
Download picks: Too Much Blood, National Anthem, Biloxi Parish, Here Comes My Man, Mae