Listen to any previous The Gaslight Anthem album and you could easily slot them in with other punk rock bands like Blink 182 or NOFX. Primarily they have always been classed as punk rock.
Listen to their fifth studio album and you could be excused for thinking that you are listening to a whole new band. Forget everything you ever knew about The Gaslight Anthem. Gone are the heavy drums, fast paced tempo and the screaming. The Gaslight Anthem have shed that image and emerged with a whole new sound. Whether it is the band maturing or the signing onto a new record label, The Gaslight Anthem have changed.
Now, one could complain that the band have been moulded and repacked into a more radio friendly Foo Fighters-esque band designed to sell more records; or you could take it at face value and listen to the album as is, no judgement.
Shades of New Jersey natives Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi echo a little through the album as the band establish this new sound. At times you could be listening to a Bon Jovi support band, minus the big guitar heavy power ballads.
Title track ‘Get Hurt’ is the highlight of the album; with great lyrics and story telling, yet not heavy on over producing. The chorus is where it shines and some of the lyrics are sheer brilliance. ’Rollin’ and Tumblin” is very neo-grunge and not in a good way, like listening to old Mudhoney. It really falls flat with a little too much over use of backing vocals. Likewise with album opener Stay Vicious; this time sounding like Layne Staley of Alice in Chains.
‘Break Your Heart’ is a more pleasant track as the heavy backing vocals have been removed. When The Gaslight Anthem take the time to strip back some of the over thinking and over production and keep it simple is when this album shines. The music just does not need that much production as they really are good storytellers at the base of it. Brian Fallon really does have a great voice that is superb to listen to once you take away the fluff and he sings a great ballad.
Over all the band may have changed direction, which is not a bad thing but it will take some time to refine and fit into a new groove. One thing is for sure the world does not need another Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl is one man that can not be easily emulated and should not. Whether or not it will gain them new followers whilst old fans fall by the way side remains to be seen.
Reviewer: Amanda Starkey