By Francesca Birch
The Gaslight Anthem return to us with their 3rd released album “American Slang”. A follow up from the popular “The 59’ Sound”. Songs from that album have been hammered into my head ever since that album was released, and during my anticipation for “American Slang” I did have some doubt that The Gaslight Anthem couldn’t possibly better their previous one. But they did it.
“American Slang” still hosts the same big tunes as “The 59’ Sound” did, but it is a step forward. They offer the same thrills and intensity but from a bit of a different angle, some may like it, some may not. The Gaslight Anthem have definitely broadened their musical palettes with a Van Morrison influence in “Stay Lucky” however this song could have fit comfortably on their last album once you hear the gripping guitar solo. Another influence is Bruce Springsteen, particularly in the song “Bring It On” with the opening lyrics “My Queen of the Bronx, blue eyes and spitfire.” Another Bruce Springsteen feel is in the song “The Diamond Church Street Choir.” Opening with finger clicks which is very reminiscent of Sprinsteen’s early days. Frontman Brian Fallon attempts to sing at his highest towards the end of the song and it’s very enlightening to hear this side of him.
The track “Orphan” is an obvious and immediate anthem on the record, charged by a tricksy and crafty guitar riff intro, creating a uplifting mood with your heart on your sleeve. Drummer Benny Horowitz excels on this track, it’s like he is urging you to jump around. The Gaslight Anthem are pretty clever when it comes to introductions, the track “The Spirit Off Jazz” starts off with a brilliant and exhilarating intro which could definitely be a crowd favourite with the lyrics repeated “and she’s waiting, and she’s waiting! and I’m waiting, and I’m waiting!” which you can almost visualise a crowd screaming back to you. The album quite fittingly closes with a nostalgic theme with the track “We Did It When We Were Young”. It builds up dramatically by adding more instruments as the track continues and more percussion is added which gives off a heartfelt mood. It’s one that could even shed a tear from a 38 year old beer drinking man sitting in a bar with those lyrics “I’m older now and we did it when we were young”. The bands attitude to the past seems rather charitable.
The change of pace in this album gives the listener a chance to sit back and intake the music, which is what makes it different from the more upbeat album “The 59’ Sound”. It promotes the bands maturity and diversity as they aim to grip onto listeners emotions. The bands maturity is also displayed as you can clearly hear that they seem to be reaching into American musical traditions, especially Springsteen traditions. And Brian Fallon’s voice has adopted more of a smoky tone and crinkly texture, that is somewhat divine to hear. The Gaslight Anthem still maintain some of their well known pop-punk riffs, however the way they lean more into classic rock is just charming and now they can appeal to a much wider audience.