Monday, July 23, 2012

The Gaslight Anthem: "Handwritten" (album review)

Over the course of their career The Gaslight Anthem have always drawn comparisons to Bruce Springsteen.  There's no doubt they share a penchant for writing songs about the blue collar struggle, and a raw rock edge.  Not much changes with this week's release of their new studio album Handwritten.

From the opening of "45" you know you're not in for any surprises with Handwritten.  Gaslight Anthem do one thing and they do it well.  You can count on a reliable guitar-driven rock record, with a touch of the roll for good measure.

The dirty, rough-edged rock permeates the record.  It blazes throughout the fuel-injected title track.  On "Mulholland Drive" it takes the form of a soaring-yet-grimy working man's guitar line.

The 'oh sha la la' refrain of "Here Comes My Man" shows a nod to pop rock.  So too does the frenetic "Howl", a track that tries but just can't outrun its hooks.

Some of the rockers ("Keepsake", "Desire", "Too Much Blood") tend to blend together for lack of a defining characteristic.  The only real miss is "Mae".  It's a song that shows the potential to smolder, but instead melts away into a pool of cheese.

The album wraps up on a more introspective note with the subdued "National Anthem".

Sure Gaslight Anthem don't break any new ground, and the record may not even be them at their best.  However, Handwritten is a pretty darn good rock and roll album.

Best tracks: "Here Comes My Man", "Howl"

Track listing for Handwritten:
  • 45
  • Handwritten
  • Here Comes My Man
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Keepsake
  • Too Much Blood
  • Howl
  • Biloxi Parish
  • Desire
  • Mae
  • National Anthem

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