Sound — 8
With no irony, no superiority and no bitterness in sight, it seems The Gaslight Anthem is intent on bringing a heart back to rock and roll. American Slang' is the New Jersey based outfits third full length record and coming off the back of their second and breakthrough record, 2008's The 59' Sound', there is considerable expectations. So for this third record what's new? Well, the power chords are gone. The one- two combo that greeted you on the first two tracks on the 59' sound are gone. From the start this is an all round tighter, daring and, dare one say, a more mature sounding effort. Immediately, Brian Fallon and company are letting you know what you're here for, In the title track and the records opening a gradual build up met with a storming lead guitar line reminiscent of Tom Petty's American Girl' yet with a prickly intent. The striking element to the record that is instantly recognisable is the unleashing of Alex Rosamilia's lead and the freedom he has over the subtle rhythm of the early tracks. Stay Lucky', American Slang's twist on The 59' Sound', is a prime example, staying at a vehement pace while Fallon's vocals continue to break and grind out wistful misgivings, Rosamilia breathes a fresh life into the track that prevents it from falling under the category of any other pop punk sing-along.The band claiming that London Calling' and its grandeur and exploration was the chief principle is by no means a miss-step, The Queen Of Lower Chelsea' and It's measured riff maybe taps more directly to Straight To Hell' than anything from London Calling' but It's what makes The Gaslight Anthem the most interesting band working today, nowhere else could you find these influences so precisely entwined and presented as pitch perfect pop-punk music. The records middle order, while maybe not being as stand out or instantly memorable as The 59' Sound', is in keeping with the themes of American Slang', it makes you work to appreciate the intricacies of the sequencing, the licks and the blues rhythms that lay below each energetic vocal.
Lyrics — 9
The 59' Sound was a uplifting and nostalgic tale fitting around lost loves, broken dreams and late night carnivals back dropped by the young and reckless living on the boardwalks of New Jersey, a more feverish and faster salutation to Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, The Innocent and The E-Street Shuffle' if you will. The title track and the records opening Fallon sings how they cut me to ribbons and taught me to drive/ I got your name tattooed inside of my arm' and in that lamentation lies arguably the greatest chorus the band have ever written. It's a different kind of writing also that gallantly strays from the comfort of their previous records, On The Diamond Church Street Choir' Fallon eases into the pace with finger clicks while the tempo doesn't stray too far from jimmy jazz' by The Clash, It's when the record first announces a radical departure from what they know and love, Fallons voice rises and rises and It's soul, pure soul and once again the chorus is so perfectly carved It's impossible not to fall head over heels for it. Bring It On' reaches the same heights and is an undoubted Highlight In its achievement of containing the lyric So give me the fevers that just won't break/And give me the children you don't want to raise' Fallon's most personal and poignant lyric yet and a chorus so bursting with vigour and repressed anger you can feel Fallon's throat throbbing with agony as he howls if he's better than my love/ then go on and take it all' The records middle order, while maybe not being as stand out or instantly memorable as The 59' Sound', is in keeping with the themes of American Slang', it makes you work to appreciate the intricacies of the sequencing, the licks and the blues rhythms that lay below each energetic vocal. The Spirit of Jazz' and Old Haunts' are far from formulaic and in their choruses begin to unveil the final themes of abandonment and distance that the Record Finishes with. We Did It When We Where Young' a slow building tempo with Fallon's rattling vocal, seemingly dented and broken from the previous ten tracks, mourning a life that's past him by, I missed you for so long' and conversely to the nostalgia that occasionally threatens to engulf the record he tires of remembering and simply wants to move on, a move that the band has bravely taken, which in turn makes it a fitting as a finale.
Overall Impression — 8
With no irony, no superiority and no bitterness in sight, it seems The Gaslight Anthem is intent on bringing a heart back to rock and roll. The Springsteen comparisons have become lazy and rightly so as Orphans' and Boxer' so resent the mindless labelling, these tales of memories and loss of faith may play to the same blue collar ties of The River' but It's the melodies that separate them from anything on that record or anything contemporary for that matter, It's bristling with soul and a likeability factor every band would sell their soul for. With tales of woe to nod along to, tales of youth to reflect to and tales of love to sing to, The Gaslight Anthem have indeed restored heart and faith in modern rock music.