REVIEW: The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang


Back in the day, the only bad thing I could think of to say about The Gaslight Anthem was that they might have too much of a Bruce Springsteen fascination going on.  This was okay, because A) I never listened to that much Springsteen anyway and B) because the songs were just so brilliant.  They were poetic in an old timey greaser sort of way (like The Killers tried, less successfully on Sam’s Town), which made for some seriously sad, beautiful songs; and all of this combined with a Strummer-inspired punk aesthetic, made me feel like I was listening to something like the band Jesus might put together if he decided to come down from heaven and show us a few tricks he picked up in the last 2000 years.  So, when singer Brian Fallon came to The First Unitarian earlier this year to play an acoustic set and tell us how the new Gaslight album was going to be their London Calling, that is, the album where they find the sound they’ve always secretly wanted to be, and get remembered for the rest of history as being as good as The Beatles, we were all pretty excited, needless to say.  However, this new album, American Slang, is just…well… average. I mean, as always, the band weaves their eau-de-Americana lyrics with a sparkling lead guitar and passionate singing from Brian Fallon.  This is a man whose voice is so good he covered “I Do Not Hook Up” by a certain Kelly Clarkson, and actually made it sound good.  And they are the real deal, lest we forget.  Unlike Mr. Strummer, these guys really did pull themselves out of the working class, making it out of working dead end jobs in some shithole in New Jersey to conquer the world.  But even so, the songs just aren’t quite as sad, and the choruses aren’t quite as triumphant as before, it’s like listening to a slightly faded carbon copy of the previous, genius album The ’59 Sound.  All the same bits are there, in similar placement and order, just not quite as good.  However, I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea here.  If this was their debut album, and we had nothing to compare it to, I would undoubtedly be sitting here with nothing to say besides the highest praise.  This is a good album, by a very good band, it’s just not as good as we have seen them be.  In fact, if you’ve never heard the band before, I would encourage you to get this album first so that you can love it for what it is, and then move on to having your skull shattered by ’59 Sound.  Either way, enjoy the band, see them live, enjoy the album, but if you want to hear this band at their best, this is not the first place you should look. — JAMIE DAVIS

PREVIOUSLY: Brian Fallon At First Unitarian

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