It’s appropriate that a band called The Gaslight Anthem has an album entitled Handwritten because this album is full of "handwritten" (aka from the heart) rock anthems. It’s big and ambitious, while still holding onto its roots of Jersey punk rock.
From their first album, The Gaslight Anthem have grown by leaps and bounds, and while this record does show some growth, it’s more of a blend of the sounds they’ve explored in the past rather than a continued evolution. It’s a combination of their past two records with an extra big dash of a punk Bruce Springsteen. Makes sense. Handwritten was produced by Brendan O’Brien, Springsteen’s longtime producer.
I like it. I’ll definitely be blasting this while I’ll drive up and down the Garden State Parkway this summer. Which is probably the most appropriate way to listen to this record, now that I think about it.
Key tracks are the single “45” and the short but loud “Howl.” All the songs on this record tackle the same material -- love, music, loss, driving -- as their other records, but these two songs in particular stand out to me. “45,” spinning about for a while now on the blogosphere is a pure Gaslight Anthem song. It could fit in on any of their records. Also, the video takes place in the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, so extra points for that.
And of course the title track, "Handwritten." You can feel it, can’t you? In every song, really, but especially in this one.
I also love The Gaslight Anthem’s slower, more ballad-like songs. Each record has to have one. Handwritten’s ballad is "National Anthem." Really, if Brian Fallon could just come sing me to sleep every night with his gravelly voice, I would be a happy girl.
All I can really say about this record is: big anthemic sounds and lyrics that hit close to home. Handwritten is a good one. But I can't say it's a classic. But what is these days? Oh well...
Album available now...or stream it for free here sucka!