The new Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten, has been an album that I have been anticipating for quite a while. Strangely, when it came out a couple of weeks ago, I was broke and had a lot of other things going on and couldn’t get around to purchasing it.
I tried to stay away from listening to any of the songs on the Internet because I wanted to be surprised when I did get around to hearing the album. I wanted to be able to go through the album with a fresh perspective of the entire album, instead of having a partial idea of what it sounded like by listening to it chunk by chunk. I am really glad I made the decision to be patient and wait.
This major label entrance of their 4th album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 at #3 and there is no big surprise why. Handwritten is an amazing follow up to 2010’s American Slang, which is no small feat because American Slang was outstanding. But Handwritten is nothing short of mind-blowing. As soon as I start listening to it, I was immediately taken in. The album starts off strong with “45” and the title track. After that it really doesn’t let up. Song after song is pure magic.
See here is the thing. There really is nothing new or fresh about The Gaslight Anthem. They are not exploring any new territory or trying to push the envelope of rock ‘n’ roll or anything like that. Nick Hornby said it very well when he wrote in the liner notes that “if you haven’t heard anything like this before, then you’re probably listening to the wrong band…”
Despite the fact that they aren’t doing anything new, they do what they do very well. Their songs are full of passion and they make the listener feel something. They songs make you feel nostalgic in a way. The Jersey influence of “The Boss” can still be felt and the songwriting of front man Brian Fallon has not let up in any way. And whether The Gaslight Anthem is a punk rock band with heavy classic rock roots or a classic rock band with punk rock roots, this band has really developed their craft and evolved as a band.
The Gaslight Anthem is a band that has churned out great album after great album but yet still don’t get the respect they deserve. Handwritten could very well get them that respect.