The Gaslight Anthem
Handwritten


4.0
excellent

Review

by Schizophrenik USER (7 Reviews)
July 17th, 2012 | 87 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Now with 30% more woah-ohs

It's been a long time since I've had this kind of anticipation for a new album. But then, I'm sure I'm not alone in that. The Gaslight Anthem's knack for striking just the right combination of nostalgic lyrics and well crafted rock and roll to transport the listener to a wrold of moonlight summer nights, starry eyed girls, and jazz crackling through old radios has earned them quite a following over the last few years. A great single and only partially subdued questions about whether the band could top their brilliant 2008 effort "The '59 Sound" has pushed the hype meter through the roof. But after listening to the record a few times, it seems the fans were the only ones interested in "'59 Sound" comparisons. All TGA was concerned with was creating some truly towering music -- Rock and Roll on a grand scale, and in that they have certainly succeeded.

Handwritten comes out swinging with the first single, "45" a faced paced, straight up rocker with some great lead parts, followed by the wonderful title track containing some of Fallon's best lyrical work to date. A couple songs in and it pretty quickly becomes clear TGA are trying to fill stadiums with this one; to say that dynamics are prevelent would not do the truth of it justice. Most of the songs have a quiet bridge or clean last verse of some sort followed by a crushing chorus, to the point that it's almost tempting to call it a gimmick. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case: you're probably not listening to the gaslight anthem for their subtlety anyway, and by the time the standout track "keepsake" rolls around with its bluesy lead riff and irresistable chorus, you'll find yourself toe tapping and nostalgic for things you may have never even experienced. And that's really what this band is all about.

The band's sound has improved greatly as a result of the production, which is remarkably crisp even for such a high profile release. Its impact is most strongly felt on the vocals where it gives Fallon the range and tone in his yells to really make the anthemic choruses work where they might not have had the same punch otherwise. Even better, the instruments keep up with the soaring vocals note for note, creating a incredibly tight sound. The bass is smooth, the lead is sharp, and the drumming is on point on every track. This is really an example of a band on top of its game, making the kind of music they've always wanted to make.

One area where Handwritten does fall short in is consistancy. The good songs are great, but there are also a couple not so great tracks. Some, like "Here Comes My Man," I would even consider average, which is an adjective I'm not accustomed to using around this band. The closer "National Anthem" could have also been much better. As it stands, it's a nice acoustic piece with some standard finger picking and even more standard strings in the background, but that's really about it, which is a shame considering what it could have been given Fallon's success with acoustic songs in the past. It would have almost been better to end the album with "Mae," a slow, powerful song with all the wistful lyrics about teenage romance you would expect from a Gaslight Anthem ballad.

However, these complaints are only what keep "Handwritten" from being perfect; they do not keep it from being great -- it is that, and more.

Recommended Tracks:

45
Handwritten
Keepsake
Howl
Biloxi Parish
Mae



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user ratings (615)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
newjunkaesthetic93
July 17th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I agree, The National Anthem disappointed me. Everyone else talks it up like it's the centerpiece of this album, but I find it to be the low point. I hope it grows on me, but as of right now it just seems like a watered down "Here's Looking At You Kid" or "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts".

Schizophrenik
July 17th 2012


842 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the more I think about it, the more mae should have been the closer. There's nothing wrong with ending
an album on an acoustic song, but National Anthem just isn't that good.

BirthRite
July 17th 2012


1318 Comments


lol all the views going to the new contortionist album

lol hard

johnnyblaze
July 17th 2012


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed with thoughts on the national anthem - definitely a low point on this imo

Spec
July 17th 2012


27211 Comments


Gotta get this. Good review.

TooLateToGoBack
July 17th 2012


1776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So excited to get my hands on this. "Mae" is also seriously such a fantastic song.

The Deluxe has bonus tracks, so National Anthem won't be the end of the album in the Deluxe. A few more days.....

Spec
July 17th 2012


27211 Comments


All in good time.

newjunkaesthetic93
July 17th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Mae should have totally been the closer, and National Anthem should have been somewhere in the middle of the album. I'm loving this album so much though. It's not The '59 Sound, but it easily holds it's own in their consistently great discography.

Inveigh
July 17th 2012


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'm only 4 songs in, but so far it sounds a bit better than American Slang (which did end up growing on me).

not ready to put it on 59 Sound / Sink or Swim's level yet, but it is damn good. Mullholland Drive kicks major ass.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
July 17th 2012


9060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

5 songs deep and this is pretty generic but I like the generic. This'll probably end up being a 4 or 4.5.

MagmaWalrus
July 17th 2012


243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm waiting until tonight to listen to this. I don't think I'll make it though. Great review by the way, I like how you actually spend time talking about the music rather than just the history of a band.

Schizophrenik
July 17th 2012


842 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks man, I don't review much so feedback is appreciated

Pentagon
July 17th 2012


1998 Comments


God is the album artwork shite imo

Inveigh
July 17th 2012


25025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually kind of like it, better than the last one at least

MagmaWalrus
July 17th 2012


243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I can see how it might seem lame to some, but it's old school and really suits TGA.

dimsim3478
July 17th 2012


5228 Comments


Looking forward to the "Sliver" cover on the deluxe.

Solid 4.5. No '59 Sound, however.

Digging: Antarctigo Vespucci - I'm So Tethered

Douglas
July 17th 2012


9126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The few spins ive given this have given me good vibes. Review needs a tidy up, but nice write up nonetheless

newjunkaesthetic93
July 17th 2012


1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm loving that it seems like everyone has a different favorite song off here. That's a sure sign that the album is at least consistent.

Eko
July 18th 2012


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"you'll find yourself toe tapping and nostalgic for things you may have never even experienced."

POS

Rawrz
July 18th 2012


152 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fantastic album. I love how on repeated listens different songs stand out since there all great tracks.



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