“Handwritten” – The Gaslight Anthem

Starting off with the mighty new single “45,” The Gaslight Anthem’s fourth album “Handwritten” starts off amazingly. Packed with what I think is a Hot Water Music reference and their trademark chord progressions, this song rips. It sets a great pace for the record which then hands us the titular second track “Handwritten.” It took me a couple listens to get into this song but now I’m hooked (I should mention this is my third listen to the record as I write this). The next few songs are slower jammers to cool things off. They sound pretty similar but they get the job done. “Too Much Blood” starts to lag a little towards the end but they pick themselves up one track later. “Howl” is my second favorite track on the album and the only one which matches the opener’s intensity. I cannot profess how much I love this track. I listen to it nonstop over and over again, only stopping for the fear I’ll overplay it. After “Howl” comes “Biloxi Parish,” a bluesy rocker they debuted not too long after “American Slang” came out, and it has the feel of that album attached to it, I’d say. I need to say at this point that I initially didn’t like “Biloxi Parish” at all. When I heard it live I thought it was rather rote and unnecessarily slow. In this past year I’ve had a classic rock resurgence in my musical tastes however, and by the time this album came out I thought it rocked, and I catch myself air-guitaring to it now. The last few songs are all pretty cool; “Desire” is pretty upbeat and “Mae” provides a pretty landing before ending the album with “National Anthem.” “National Anthem” is the folk song of the album, and without it the record would surely feel incomplete. On the whole, I miss the fast songs of the band’s early career, but I already have those records for when I want that stuff, I suppose. Fans of the band will love this album, but if you didn’t already get on the bandwagon I can’t see you starting now. There isn’t really anything on here that they haven’t already done a few times, but I doubt they care, and I know I certainly don’t. On the opposing side, if you’ve never heard The Gaslight Anthem before then “Handwritten” is the perfect way to start with this band. Well, actually “Señor And The Queen” is, but this record is great nonetheless.

-Matthew Koerner

Recommended Jams: Howl, 45, Desire, a.k.a. the three shortest songs on the album


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