Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Album Review: Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem

OK, I know I'm supposed to like this album.  After all Nick Hornby loves The Gaslight Anthem.  They're frequently compared to and often cite being influenced by Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  They're supposed to be a mix of old school punk and passion mixed with heartfelt songwriting and a blue collar ethos.

Unfortunately the album is a decided bore after the initial track.  45 is a great track and the impetus behind my purchase of this album.  Its rapid lyrics, gravelly vocals, buzzsaw guitars and varied drumstrokes are what great, straightforward rock music should sound like.

After the intro however the album reverts to the cliches,monotone and repetive boredom that the worst of Tom Petty's music finds itself in.

Sure the music SOUNDS great.  The vocals are crystal clear, the guitars and drums are crisp.  The production value in this album is fantastic.  With Brendan O'Brien on board it can't help but SOUND good.  Having produced the last 10 years or so of Springsteen albums, a number of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Incubus, The Killers, Rage Against the Machine and other big time rock albums, O'Brien is more accomplished than those he is working with in this case and a producers magic can only go so far.

As clean and clear as the music sounds, the lyrics are dreadful 80's hairband mush and there is nothing here beyond 45 that is any better than your local Springsteen/Petty wanna be bar band.

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