April 30, 2012

Song Review: The Gaslight Anthem's "45"

The punk rock community is a funny, hypercritical place as it seems no matter what a band does, they're always going to tick off some sect of their fanbase. Just look at New Jersey boys The Gaslight Anthem who've been a lightning rod at odds with the .org-core scene since The '59 Sound transcended them out of that exclusive world and onto a hipper alt-rock landscape. Despite releasing their first three albums on punk-friendly indies however, you can't deny that the New Brunswick quartet's classic Springsteen-meets-Bouncing Souls-homaging sound was always built on a foundation intended to expand into something bigger. For their forthcoming effort Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem finally takes that polarizing plunge some fans have been fearing forever by joining the major leagues at Mercury, and the LP's burly lead single "45" is nothing short of a transitional right of passage. "I can't move on and I can't stay the same," fittingly declares frontman Brian Fallon as he belts out what's become his typical lyrical sing-song of allusions to ghosts and lines about looking back ("...where you used to be.") This time around, though, Fallon's digging deeper down into that gruff-and-scratchy voice box of his, and the end result propels the Gaslight Anthem into a large-scale, fiery direction that can very well lead to some intense airplay down the road. "45" keeps the band's timeless brand of punk-leaning rock 'n roll in tact, but blows the lid off the riffs and hooks with a resurrected urgency that seemed to take a backseat on 2010's American Slang. Coming from someone who's been a fan of The Gaslight Anthem since their early beginnings playing basements and small clubs, if this is the meal ticket that elevates these humble Jersey boys into the same arenas as their heroes The Boss, Tom Petty and Pearl Jam, then turn it up.

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