The Gaslight Anthem | Handwritten

Mercury (2012)
By ALEXANDRA CAVALLO  |  July 17, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

These Jersey boys scored longtime Springsteen producer Brendan O'Brien for their fourth studio album, but their heads haven't swelled any for it. Handwritten finds the Gaslight Anthem firmly grounded — all grease, grit, and earnest emotion as visceral as the hometown soil caked beneath their fingernails. It's that bare-boned sincerity that has long set them apart as an old-school rock band amid the modern noise, and excused Brian Fallon his penchant for just-short-of-gimmicky retro nostalgia. It's signature Gaslight, mundane working-class despair tempered by an indomitable strength of spirit. There's real hope beneath the pain in shit-kicking anthems like "45" and "Howl," a breezy sing-a-long that asks, "Do you still believe there's magic left somewhere inside our souls?" The answer: oh, hell yes. One day, kids will listen to this the way I do any Simon & Garfunkel album — foolishly wistful for a bygone era I never knew. With one foot rooted in the past, the band is yet pushing forward, with an album that promises longevity and, maybe, greatness. And though Fallon can't resist a Bette Davis name-check in the token quiet ode "Mae," he's largely free of the grasping for identity that riddled The '59 Sound. He used to wish he was Elvis. These days, he seems pretty okay just being himself.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, nostalgia, release,  More more >
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