On 13th May 2012 at 20:04 Stephen Thwaites wrote...
This album is 2 years old...?
By The Gaslight Anthem
New Brunswick natives The Gaslight Anthem, who only formed in 2006, have risen to outstanding new heights faster than any other bands have in the past few years. While their first effort, 2007's outstanding Sink or Swim, found them a small dedicated fan base, 2008 sophomore effort The '59 Sound shot them to new heights entirely in the space of just a year, going from underground heroes to new mainstream favourites. From being on the cover of Kerrang! with no previous articles written about them in the magazine whatsoever, to being joined by no other than Bruce Springsteen himself on stage at Glastonbury and Hyde Park in 2009 (which in itself saw sales of The '59 Sound double), all eyes seemingly turned to them in a flash.
So it's no surprise then that expectations for their new effort, American Slang, are extremely high. Fans of the band both new and old are waiting with baited breath to see if everybody's favourite new band can deliver a record that has anything close to the same aptitude for song writing the band demonstrated on The '59 Sound.
The good news is that they do, and without re-writing the album that shot them to success. American Slang's songs have a lot more space to breathe, taking cues from bands such as The Rolling Stones and London Calling-era The Clash. Gone are the days of Sink or Swim in which most of the songs were played at an intense pace. Instead, showcases songs with grooves and riffs instead of big open chords; songs that spark that desire to get up and dance and sing along to every word.
While The '59 Sound, as the album title implies, was filled with nostalgia and lyrically and stylistically nodded to Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, American Slang feels like a much more personal record, more concerned with finding one's inner self. Opening track 'American Slang' provides the evidence of this from the get go, as vocalist and guitarist Brian Fallon sings lines such as "I seem to be coming out of my skin", while behind him drummer Benny Horowitz provides a huge driving beat that accompanies the equally as huge riff.
Lead guitarist Alex Rosamilia gets his time to shine on tracks such as 'Bring It On', providing lead melodies that perfectly compliment the riffs being played by Fallon.
Track 4, 'The Diamond Church Street Choir' may just be the album's crown jewel, taking The Rolling Stones influence further. Gentle riffs bounce and flow throughout the song's verses. When the song hits the chorus however, it's almost impossible to not crack at least a little bit of a smile and sing along with the simple, but no less gargantuan chorus the song boasts.
Despite largely mid-tempo songs like 'The Diamond Church Street Choir' and 'Bring It On', The Gaslight Anthem still haven't lost their knack for straight up and fast paced rock and roll. 'Orphans' and 'The Spirit of Jazz' are by far the album's fastest tracks, although the growth in the band's song writing still shines even at top speed.
Track 9, 'Old Haunts', takes an aggressive turn, with Fallon belting lyrics "Don't sing me your songs about the good times/Those days are gone and you should just let them go". There's even an intentional reference to Sink or Swim track 'The Navesink Banks' where Fallon previously crooned "Oh Maria/If you'd had known me when". Three years later on 'Old Haunts' the older and wiser vocalist looks back and sings 'God help the man who says 'if you'd had known me when'', further carrying on the album's underlying theme of soul searching and redemption.
Things draw to a close on a slow and sombre tone, the complete opposite of how The '59 Sound closed. While that albums closing track 'The Backseat' was one final burst of energy, American Slang's 'We Did It When We Were Young' gives the collection an introspective sense of closure with lines such as 'But I am older now/And we did it when we were young', while also being one of the albums best tracks.
American Slang could have easily been a disaster. It could've been a slump for the band, and the fans that they've gained since 2008 would've been severely disappointed. This won't be the case. The Gaslight Anthem have shown they're here to stay, and they're only going to go further up from here. The future continues to look very bright for The Gaslight Anthem.