Gaslight Anthem album review
At long last, here I am doing this little album review. It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with any actual direction or intention, so hopefully this will take me back to when I did this kinda thing all the time.
Before I begin I’d just like to say I got my first odd abusive comment for my last post. No idea why, but thank you to whoever it was that decided it was best to randomly insult some nobody blogger. The expertly named NOOB SLAY3R even threatened to eat my non-existent hamster if I didn’t take my blog down, which was an incredibly ambitious and creative threat.
Anyway, I’m still here and my pretend hamster is still not being eaten by some lunatic with a grammar problem. So on with the show.
The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
I thought of going track by track, but before that I have just read a very bad review of this album and cannot understand the ‘corporate 80s’ label that was tacked onto it. It’s definitely progression from Handwritten, evolution and a new direction in terms of sound, maybe even genre. But it still rocks, the first half in particular.
#1 Stay Vicious
Right from the opening riff it’s a change from the last record. It feels less bluesy, more grungey if anything. But then it has a la la la bit, which just makes any song enjoyable. The riffs aren’t up to much but the chorus and Brian’s lovely voice filling my ears with a new sound makes it a good start. It also took me about eight listens through the album to notice the synth effects over the last chorus. I like it.
#2 1,000 Years
I’d say I’ve listened to this album about fifteen times since I got it, but I’ve had this song about fifty. Favourite song on the record, the chorus just has some offbeat little thing about it and the change in pace between verse and chorus just all comes together for me so well. It’s so good I’m already in danger of overplaying it, with no help whatsoever from Radio 1.
#3 Get Hurt
Title track, one of the two songs I’d already heard before I picked this up. The video is unexpectedly strange, the song is a little spooky to be honest. The lyrics are a tad flirty with an emo type of self-pity, but they do fit the tone nicely. In classic Gaslight fashion it has a nice break which always seems to enhance their sound.
#4 Stray Paper
Love the opening riff, it’s a bit more Handwritten than the songs before it. There’s a little too much backup oohing going on for me, but overall it keeps the run of very good songs going. This is one of the songs where I think it sags a bit in the middle with the ‘my love becomes’ section feeling a bit stretched, but hey.
#5 Helter Skeleton
This was probably the song I thought I had the coolest name, so I was a bit disappointed when it came on. I don’t know what it is about the verses but they just don’t work for me. The ‘friend of me should be a friend indeed’ (possibly paraphrased) is the line I really can’t stand, which to me seems totally irrational. The chorus and the line ‘I’m on the 99th floor of apathy’ make sure it gets a listen though. Once the first verse and a half are out of the way all is well.
#6 Underneath The Ground
I love this song. It’s not really that minimalist, or even stripped back, but the slight change of pace is welcome. To be honest the best thing about this one to me is the fact I can put myself in the position of asking some of the questions posed in the song. Which probably sounds really weird, so moving right along…
#7 Rollin’ And Tumblin’
Straight back up with the tempo, the first single from this album is the second song I was aware of prior to purchase. As I’ve listened to it I must say it’s grown on me, the first verse in particular. The line ‘You say I’m hopelessly devoted to misery…’ is probably my favourite Gaslight Anthem line that isn’t in Mae. It’s hectic, poetic and means something to me. You can even have a proper video for this one. Woo.
#8 Red Violins
After all the manic energy of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ this was originally the start of my down-slide to the album. Listening to it a few times though I think it’s actually a pretty solid song. It seems sluggish at first, but once it kicks into gear it has a real rock to it. All throughout being helped by Brian’s gruff, effortless vocals. It is too obvious I love that man?
#9 Selected Poems
Another one that needs to be persisted with, like Helter Skeleton. I hate the ‘Honey bee..’ beginning, once those opening 40 seconds or so are through it really gets going. It’s as good a singalong song as any on the album, and I still get to this point without skipping a song, a rarity for me which keeps going with…
#10 Ain’t That A Shame
Another slightly dirty riff a la Stray Paper, the pre-chorus is my highlight of this song. My one gripe with it is the inflection on ‘shame’, which also ends up being the last sound you hear as it fades out, irritating me no end. Still, it has a good ‘build up-break down-rebuild back up’ formula, and I have probably used more apostrophes in this post than I have in any other.
#11 Break Your Heart
The first and only really stripped down song on the record, and I’m afraid often the first one that gets a skip from me when I’m driving along. Not the song’s fault, it’s just not a driving song. It is also a bit plain after the ten towering songs that preceded it, in a good way. If anything these guys should be doing this kind of song more.
#12 Dark Places
Reminds me of The Backseat from The ’59 Sound, not too sure why. Again the lyrics can get a little gothy, simply put it’s a really good rock song, and a great way to end the normal album. But we have the Deluxe version, so there are still three more songs to go!
#13 Sweet Morphine
Hit and miss this one for me. Love the chorus – as with most of the album – but it’s a teeny bit bland and generic at times.
#14 Mama’s Boys
Harmonica intros are always nice, and this acoustical song feels like a bonus track, if that makes sense. It’s a good one, but I can see why it’s just an extra.
This is the one that gets a skip most playthroughs, just like National Anthem was for me on Handwritten. Maybe it’s just the last songs I have problems with…
So there we are, hope it wasn’t too disappointing after all that wait! I may do more of these in the future, that was fun. Keep in mind that while I am a Journalism graduate these are my albums that I have willingly bought with my own pennies, and I’m not writing these professionally for anyone, just for funsies, so I may be rather biased. Having said that I do remember to state why I like these songs so maybe you can get a feel for them.
The full album is on the Gaslight Anthem Vevo page if the vids in the post got you in the mood for more.
I have recently picked up both Taylor Swift’s and Slipknot’s new albums, and if you take out the hidden tracks and filler on Slipknot’s they both end up with 13 songs. I feel a huge cross-genre showdown coming soon(ish)!
Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack