The Gaslight Anthem certainly has a lot to live up to. The undeniable success of their 2010 release American Slang, as well as Brian Fallon’s solo effort Elsie with Ian Perkins has raised the bar to unbelievable heights. But rest assured, the New Jersey foursome have succeeded, over and over again with their new album Handwritten.
Fallon’s authoritative and raspy voice puts him into a whole new league of songwriters, backed with top notch musicians that give the tracks a raw, yet nurtured sound. ’45’ is the ideal lead single, an opener to give the feel of ‘classic’ Gaslight Anthem soul and fortitude.
Followed by the title track ‘Handwritten‘, a fast paced reflection of regret and endurance, encourages a sense of fondness and nostalgia – certainly a song to be played on a night time drive to nowhere. In keeping with the lyrically thoughtful tracks are ‘Mulholland Drive’ and ‘Too Much Blood’, songs which give an emotive balance between a reflective aggression and loving sentimentality as there is ‘too much blood on the page’. Whilst certainly soulful, the tracks have a weight which is rare in most bands today.
Written as if sifting through old love letters, or driving through an old neighbourhood, songs like ‘Mae‘ are a contemplative gaze at a glorified time in one’s life and the albums closing track is a beautiful acoustic soliloquy, ‘National Anthem’.
Always looking to the past but forever moving forward, Handwritten is the perfect transition into Autumn from the Summer, packed with a sense of relatable and aspirational tunes with anthemic yet individual and unique spirit.
It’s always worrying when a much loved band put out a new album as your torn between an irrational loyalty and being realistic – but I have to say, whilst nothing particularly new or different from The Gaslight Album, it was love at first listen as Handwritten is another triumph.
For fans of: The Horrible Crowes, Hot Water Music