By The Gaslight Anthem
'Handwritten' is the fourth installment from the New Jersey rockers providing a more polished and varied sound. Opening track and first single '45' has the signature heavy Gaslight sound with loud electric guitars and the fast drums complimenting Fallon's raw lyrics and rough vocals. Title track 'Handwritten', 'Howl' and 'Mulholland Drive' continue with the hard hitting drums and fast tempo guitar riffs which are commonly identified with the band. With its harmonious lyrics and imagery of letting go of the past and moving on, 'Here comes my man' echoes Springsteenesk records, with the 'oh sha la la las' working in favour provoking an instant sing-a-long, most likely to go down well live.
'Keepsake' and 'Too much blood' explore the darker side of Fallon's lyricism, the repetition of 'where I put you down to lay while I live with it' in 'Keepsake' identifies how personal this record is to Fallon and continues with the theme of storytelling lyrics of broken hearts and past lives. Fallon's vocals are at his most aggressive and tender in 'Too much blood', whilst also accompanied by the dark guitar riffs emulating that of Tom Waits, a prominent influence upon Fallon and the Gaslight records. 'Biloxi Parish' is one of the stronger songs of the record, with impressive guitar riffs complementing Fallon's appealing lyrics with a strong chorus producing a potential crowd pleaser. 'Desire,' follows, with the 'oh ohs' of 'Handwritten' returning to create an indifferent track before easing into 'Mae' a slow melodic track, with predictable yet relatable lyrics.
The true gem of the record is left for the end; 'National Anthem,' is an acoustic track reflecting upon past lovers. Fallon's husky vocals add to the raw emotion of the romantic and reflective lyrics creating a poignant end to the record. The Gaslight Anthem have no doubt produced a strong record with 'Handwritten' with clear signs of maturity and enhancement in Fallon's lyrics, yet as the band try to progress the image of the past still continues to linger.