The Gaslight Anthem
Sink or Swim


4.5
superb

Review

by Richard Craig USER (120 Reviews)
June 3rd, 2008 | 72 replies | 24,668 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

You have to feel sorry for some bands, don’t you? They plug away for fifteen years or more trying to perfect their sound and then along come a young band who better you on their first effort. In case you haven’t guessed yet, The Gaslight Anthem are the young band in this analogy. Their debut Sink or Swim has the sound of a band that has been playing together for decades, yet in reality, the band formed as recently as 2005 in New Brunswick, New Jersey – a “town [that] is a prison with its four walls closing in.” Sharing a state with punk legends The Bouncing Souls and folk-rock royalty Bruce Springsteen has obviously influenced them as bluesy, folksy punk-rock is the order of the day here. With folk-punk troubadours Against Me! currently engaged in taking on the mainstream, there is a vacant slot in the punk world and The Gaslight Anthem are more than capable of filling it.

While The Gaslight Anthem’s sound on Sink or Swim may not be the most original, as it can be easily compared to a mix of Against Me! and Hot Water Music, they are so good at what they do that the results are simply stunning. There is a very real urgency about their music, particularly in frontman Brian Fallon’s vocals. His husky vocals add a warm, bluesy tone to tracks such as ‘I Coul’d A Been A Contender’,and makes the chorus even bigger that it would be. Big choruses and hooks can be found on several tracks on Sink or Swim that add to the replay factor of the album. For example, ‘We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner’ with its AM! Style “woah’s” and anthemic concluding chant of “It’s alright, man. I’m only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free and do the best you can” will occupy your head for weeks – in a good way. Not only do they add to the catchiness of this particular song, but the transition that leads to such sections of the song keeps things interesting and adds something special to the song.

The album however, is not solely made up of up-tempo bluesy punk-rock. The addition of ‘The Navesink Banks’ and album closer ‘Red At Night’ adds variation as well as quality to the album. Both are reminiscent of Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan’s recent solo project only more subdued, moody and toned down. There is little accompaniment to the acoustic guitar and Fallon’s vocals in ‘The Navesink Banks’ save for some distant sounding, delay-soaked guitars, and the raw and stripped down nature of the song adds to the simple beauty of it. Billy Bragg’s ‘Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key’ acts as the basis for ‘Red At Night’ which Fallon wrote his own lyrics for. It works brilliantly and its quality is aided by the tasteful inclusion of harmonicas. As great as these more reflective moments are, The Gaslight Anthem stick largely to what they know throughout and it is on tracks like ‘I’da Called Ya Woody, Joe’ that they shine most. Building from palm-muted guitars and almost-whispered vocals to another huge sounding, up-tempo chorus it is incredibly powerful and energetic, being driven forwards by a solid rhythm section. Better yet is the opener ‘Boomboxes and Dictionaries’ with its choppy, sun soaked guitars in the verses, reassuring lyrical messages and powerful chorus. The best song on the album though, is the endearing tale of “beautiful nights under this quiet Edison sky” that is ‘We Came To Dance’. It’s structuring and textural build up is simple yet masterful, and its chorus is, yet again, gigantic and anthemic.

The Gaslight Anthem certainly have a lot going for them right now. They have a second album scheduled for release in the not too distant future and a busy touring schedule including headline shows, a brief stint on the Warped Tour and Reading & Leeds festivals playing alongside Alkaline Trio and Thrice. More importantly though, they have talent – bags of it. Sink or Swim’ is quite simply one of the best punk releases in recent memory, and the fact that it is only a debut is even more astounding. The future is undoubtedly looking bright for The Gaslight Anthem and only time will tell if they can better their debut, and take it from me, it will take something very special to beat this. With such talent at their disposable there isn’t a chance that The Gaslight Anthem will sink, just how long they can swim remains to be seen.



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user ratings (559)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
LightningJ
June 3rd 2008



120 Comments


Nice review! I think I've heard a song of their's on the SIRIUS Punk channel, but I haven't given these guys much attention. Now you've interested me in this band, and I shall look into them some more.

craigy2
June 6th 2008



551 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! Check out the songs from this on their myspace, they're the best on the album I think. Don't let the tracks from the EP put you off though, that simply doesn't measure up to this. This is an awesome album.

Kiran
Emeritus
August 15th 2008



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review for an excellent album. I need to get Senor and the Queen.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2009



17197 Comments


"We're getting a Divorce" live was a religious experience

theacademy
September 18th 2009



28249 Comments


i love this band and cd but am still uncomfortable about calling them punk


pos'd tho

EVedder27
January 16th 2010



6088 Comments


pretty much loved everything I've heard from this band thus far.

Douglas
February 11th 2010



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His vocals get so much better from this to '59. Though this still rules.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2010



17197 Comments


Sink Or Swim is grittier all over.

Douglas
February 11th 2010



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah gruff as fuck on this. its awesome

Skimaskcheck
February 14th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ahhh, listening to this again now, it still rules. It's become kind of nostalgic now

SeaAnemone
February 14th 2010



19729 Comments


This is scarily close to The '59 Sound.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

mccracker
March 13th 2010



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is better than 59 sound.

Skimaskcheck
March 14th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

123

Douglas
March 14th 2010



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah 59 sound rules the most.

SeaAnemone
March 14th 2010



19729 Comments


too many weak tracks here as opposed to none on 59. track 2 and 4 are nearly the best the GA's written though.

Kiran
Emeritus
March 14th 2010



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'da called you woody, joe was the first gaslight anthem song i ever heard :')

Skimaskcheck
March 14th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

too many weak tracks here as opposed to none on 59.

Opposite for me, this has no filler to me, whereas '59 does

Douglas
March 14th 2010



9061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

59' is pretty much perfect. This is just rockin.

mccracker
March 15th 2010



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I ve only listened to each album a few times. Agreed this does have some weak songs, but I enjoy the good ones on here more than the good ones on 59'.

EverythingEvil2113
May 29th 2010



1279 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

We Came to Dance is their best song imo



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