New Jersey rockers, The Gaslight Anthem are back with their fourth studio album, Handwritten. The quartet out of New Brunswick have continuously evolved their sound, and continue to grow musically on this, their fourth album.
They’re often compared to that famous Garden State rocker from Asbury Park, and lead singer Brian Fallon admits the influence that Springsteen has had on his career. But, these guys are not Springsteen clones, not by any far stretch of your imagination. Their sound reminds me much more of Paul Westerberg and The Replacements, or possibly a less punkified version of Against Me! They’ve got an edgy garage rock sound with catchy lyrics and memorable riffs. It’s straight forward American rock and roll.
The first single off of the album, “45,” has enjoyed tremendous success on Alt-Rock radio. It’s the first cut off of Handwritten, and a great way to kick off the album, as Fallon sings about a long relationship that has run its course: “Turn the record over… I’ll see you on the flip side… Let her go, let somebody else lay at her feet.”
The remainder of the album is filled with decent songs, but it’s not that special album we’ve come to expect from the band. Handwritten is the band’s first album on Mercury Records, after an amicable split with the typically less polished sound on Side One Dummy Records. The result is an album with more personal lyrics, but one that is also missing some of the sharp edges we’re used to from Gaslight Anthem; in effect, we see a trade-off of musical passion for lyrical passion.
Make no mistake, it;s still a good album, and better than most of the stuff on the market, but it’s a step back from the previous efforts on The ’59 Sound and American Slang. There is some good diversity here from the soulful classic rock sound of “Too Much Blood” and “Haul” and the powerful pop sound of “Desire” to the haunting closer “American Anthem” which highlights a tender side to Fallon’s voice, and is my favorite track on the album.
Check it out below and sample each of the songs, there’s definitely something for every rock fan from the new sound of New Jersey.