Sound — 7
"Get Hurt" is The Gaslight Anthem's fifth album and the build up promised us a revolutionary change in sound from previous release Handwritten but, in all honesty, the lack of this change is the main disappointment with the album. However, if I were to summarise the change, I would say it is "Handwritten" with passion back.
Opener "Stay Vicious" has a gritty, fuzz-driven riff steam-rollering it and providing a great opener for a minute or so before it switches to the second most beautiful moment on the whole standard edition of the album, falling just behind the title track. Second track "1000 Years" is an unremarkable Bon Jovi-esque stomp at first glance but gets better as one listens back to it. Third on the track list is "Get Hurt" which is where the album bears its teeth emotionally; a beautiful mid tempo rocker where lead singer Brian Fallon sings with a desperation he has only previously reserved for side project The Horrible Crowes. "Stray Paper" captures this passion but uses a more ballsy riff to back it up. Things speed up with next track "Helter Skeleton," a song that disappointed at first but, much like "1000 Years" is growing on me with each listen. "Underneath the Ground" is the only song on here I have yet to like. Not that it is bad, just a bit bland. Slow echoing guitars go over organs and Fallon sounds bored rather than passionate most the time, the only time he seems to express himself as one would expect in the background vocals. "Rollin' and Tumblin'" kicks back in with a punky throwback to their early efforts sounding somewhere between fan favourite albums "Sink or Swim" and "The 59 Sound." Then come the reasons this is getting a 7 not a 9. "Red Violins" has promise but seems to slow to get going and "Selected Poems" is, as a whole, forgettable. "Ain't That a Shame" gets things back on track, once more with a killer riff and the passion returning. From here to the end is quite frankly brilliant. "Break Your Heart" is what "Handwritten"'s "National Anthem" could have been: a genuinely emotional ballad. And closer "Dark Places" delivers a huge anthem to end which saves the album from seeming too hit or miss in retrospect.
The deluxe edition songs "Sweet Morphine" and "Mama's Boys" are okay but definitely feel like the kind of songs written just for the deluxe edition and, as such, do little to affect my judgement of the album. It's a shame, however, they didn't just use the other two deluxe tracks, "Halloween" and "Have Mercy," the former being the first song to be released from the album online two years ago, with a live version leaking, and the latter being the kind of song that should have been put in in "Underneath the Ground"'s stead.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are, as is usual fare now with TGA, fantastic. Emotive and desperate they show a deteriorating relationship. And I'll be damned if you don't feel a stirring in your gut as Fallon wails how he "came to get hurt" or how he has "pills for this/tabs for that/and something that used to resemble a soul." Once more I must question the opening to "Underneath the Ground." The only time I have not connected to even one line in any TGA song is this song, only adding to my dislike of the song. The lyrics are matched perfectly in mood with the song and it shows the one area where TGA have never been weak and are only getting stronger as time goes on.
Overall Impression — 8
This album is a great album. But does it compare to "The 59 Sound" or "American Slang"? No. Too many of the tracks, at least after 5 listens, feel like fillers whereas the prior ones had one or even none. But this album still has enough soaring highs to warrant great album status and, who knows, I may come back a 6th or 7th time and find myself completely smitten with it as I was on my 3rd time where "1000 Years" went from a disappointment to one of my favourite songs on the album. But as it stands the deluxe tracks should have taken the stead of some of the actual tracks and, had they done so, this could easily have competed with their best. But "Get Hurt" is, at its heart, a mixed batch. Great anthems and pounding riffs juxtaposed with beautiful melodic parts was always a gamble and, whereas it works in "Stay Vicious" and "Get Hurt," other tracks see it seeming formulaic. No song on here is bad, the only problem is that some tracks are just okay. If they played them live you'd think "oh okay, what next" as you hope for one of the bigger tracks. But yes, this album is great and I won't question that and I am glad to have bought it and listened to it because, while it doesn't mark a complete return to the stunning form of 2008-2010 Gaslight, it does show that they have got back off the blocks of "Handwritten," a good album but one lacking in soul, with gusto. When we look back in 10 years no one will be heralding it as the best album, but it will still be loved by fans and, hopefully, as the start of a return to form for the New Jersey rockers.