Reviews The Gaslight Anthem The '59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem

The '59 Sound

Make no assumptions about it, The Gaslight Anthem are one of the best active rock and roll bands. You can argue over whether they are a punk band or a rock band, but in the end it is all just semantics. It’s the same argument that happened thirty years ago with The Clash. It really doesn’t matter what side you end up on, you still end up with brilliant music.

The ’59 Sound is The Gaslight Anthem’s second full-length release and follow-up to the Señor and the Queen EP that was released earlier this year. The album picks up exactly where the band left off, mixing classic rock, melodic punk, and even some blues and soul. “Great Expectations” is an upbeat rock tune filled with catchy guitars, driving rhythms, and an infectious chorus. It’s one hell of an opening cut that you’ll be signing along to in no time. The title-track quickly follows and is equally as memorable.

“Old White Lincoln” showcases the softer side of the band; the pace is scaled back a tad with the guitars of Brian Fallon and Alex Rosamilia focused on delicacy as they weave back and forth with each other. “High Lonesome” picks things back up again before the band cools things off with “Film Noir” and “Miles Davis & The Cool.” Here the band distances themselves from their punk roots with a mid-tempo temperament. The change in pace allows Fallon’s soulful croon to take the lead – not like it doesn’t on other songs though. The band really distinguishes themselves from their more aggressive punk style heard on their previous ventures. Though it’s only been a matter of months, the group has show tremendous growth as songwriters.

If there were one song that I’d say is a low point it would be “The Patient Ferris Wheel.” I’m not sure why, but the song just seems to pass me by each time I listen to the record. It’s an okay song; it just never leaves an impression. “Casanova, Baby!,” on the other hand, is probably the standout track from the album. From the Cure-esque guitars, the marching drums of Benny Horowitz, the fluid bassplaying of Alex Levine, and Fallon’s trademark delivery, it’s pure bliss.

“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” is reminiscent of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers with its bluesy guitars while “Meet Me By the River’s Edge” is the band’s best Springsteen take – you really can’t go a full review without a mention of the correlation.

The ’59 Sound concludes with the melancholic “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” and “The Backseat.” While the former is a slow-moving and tepid number the latter puts everything you’ve come to love about The Gaslight Anthem into one triumphant closing track.

Lyrically, Fallon weaves tales of love, friendship, and nostalgic America, oftentimes all into one. He poetically assembles lyrics that match the retro sound of the album. In addition to the lyrical aptitude that Fallon displays in each song, there are also the nods made to historical events, literature, and other songwriters - Springsteen, Davis, Presley, Waits, and Duritz. His mentions tread the line between homage and cliché, and yet are sporadic and tasteful enough to steer clear of the latter.

The Gaslight Anthem just has a knack for writing quality songs that anyone can enjoy – I can listen to this record with my friends as well as my parents. How many albums can you say that about? For me, it’s pretty much limited to artists like The Beatles, Foo Fighters, and Beck.

There is a lot of hoopla surrounding The Gaslight Anthem, but it is really nothing worth getting yourself wrapped up in. In the end it all boils down to the fact that the band writes damn good tunes. So, if you are a person that can appreciate good rock and roll music, then The ’59 Sound is an essential album for your collection.

8.5 / 10Michael
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8.5 / 10

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