Review : The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
AbsolutepunkWell, damn. Who knows what exactly went down in Brian Fallon’s universe after the release of American Slang and then The Horrible Crowes’ Elsie, but whatever happened, we should be thankful for it. We should be thankful for Fallon’s new state of mind, this outlook that he finally no longer has to top himself – top The ’59 Sound, that is – and that he can just pour everything out into his music.
The '59 Sound is one of those things I’m always chasing to make something as good as [again]. I’m also chasing to leave it alone because it’s perfect the way it is. It’s hard for a musician to realize that that was done already: You don’t need to write '59 Sound because you already did. Now you have to find something that’s equally as good, but different.
– Brian Fallon, source
It’s pretty scary to think that albums as good as American Slang and Elsie might have been written while something held Fallon back in some intangible way; it’s spine-tingling to think of what could happen if that mental block was suddenly removed. Fallon poured himself out into a notebook, scribbling new lyrics, writing new melodies…and what do you know – Handwritten is spine-tingling, indeed.
The reason The Gaslight Anthem was able to write the best record of its career-so-far, and the frontrunner for 2012’s album of the year, is probably more a result of The Horrible Crowes than most of us really know. “I was bored,” Fallon said. “After the last record for Gaslight Anthem, I was just bored. I still had the desire to write, but I didn’t want to write any more rock and roll songs. I was in this weird mood.” So he wrote Elsie with Ian Perkins, a darker, slower, brooding cauldron of an album that was nearly perfect – for what it was. Elsie somehow set off a switch, and returning with guitarist Alex Rosamilia, bassist Alex Levine and drummer Benny Horowitz enabled The Gaslight Anthem to write more freely than ever. Handwritten is just the latest record from this band that I’ll dub its best work – but it seems I do that every time they release something. It’s not my fault they keep besting themselves.
Handwritten is the The Gaslight Anthem’s most versatile work. It combines the raw rock and roll sound of The ’59 Sound with the best soulful parts from American Slang and Elsie. Fallon’s voice is absolutely in its best shape, as the croon we heard with The Horrible Crowes strongly complements his rougher vocal parts. Most interestingly, we find a lighthearted and jovial vibe to the album at times, harkening to the Senor and The Queen EP more than anything else. But Handwritten still brings something new to the table, and what else should we expect?...full text
AlternativemusichubThe Gaslight Anthem have blazed their way across the world on the back of three of the best punk rock albums of the past decade, drawing strong comparisons with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Lucero and Social Distortion (not a bad combination, hey?).
Handwritten – the band’s fourth full length - had to be the album where Brian Fallon and Co shook the Bruce Springsteen tag that has dogged the band for the past six or so years – a comparison that seemed positive at first, but over time has begun to take away from the band’s own creative merits and the brilliant albums they’ve delivered. Handwritten is a battle cry spread across eleven songs – “We are The Gaslight Anthem and this is our sound” – a battle cry they’ve done perfectly.
45 is the first track on Handwritten which was released just over five weeks ago to rave reviews. With guitar shredding that sends shivers down your spine, the song maintains the spirit of The Gaslight Anthem that fans have grown to know and love, easily comparable to the fan favourite track Great Expectations from their 2008 album The 59 Sound.
The title track Handwritten cuts deep with pleading lyrics that will connect with you on many levels. Vocalist Brian Fallon has poured his heart out during Handwritten, a song that I had to replay five times during the first spin just to grasp the enormity of it. Summed up perfectly with the lyrics ‘every word handwritten’ repeating towards the end of the song.
Here Comes My Man is written from a female perspective, a lyrical approach Fallon has not done previously however it has been nailed perfectly. In a recent interview, Fallon spoke of the potential backlash the song may have with male fans due to the risk of writing from the perspective of the opposite gender, however the song has been executed so perfectly that any concerns are immediately forgotten about....full text
AllmusicAfter the more grown-up effort that was their third album, American Slang, the Gaslight Anthem look to get back to their punk roots with their latest offering, Handwritten. Based on the rootsy drive of their first single, "45," the Gaslight Anthem seem to have rediscovered a way to blend the heartland rock earnestness of their last album with the energy of their other work, scaling back the Springsteen worship a little (though thankfully not too much) in order to create a sound that is all their own....full text
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