The Gaslight Anthem
Handwritten


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (129 Reviews)
July 24th, 2012 | 54 replies | 8,746 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Predictable, in the best way possible.

It's hardly a surprise that Handwritten is a great record. In fact, coming from such a dependable outfit, its success was virtually inevitable, with the only unexpected twist being the manner in which it excels. Ok, that's not strictly true - especially for listeners with a hint of common sense - but for the naïve among us, Brian Fallon's comments in the run-up to the its release seemed to herald something of a U-turn. "Fast," "aggressive" and personal" are just some of the adjectives that the frontman has flung around these past few months; could he and his band be about to return to their raw and loose punk roots? Of course not.

I'll return to that term "common sense," because really that's all it would have taken to dispel such notions. It's not just the fact that this forth record represents their major label debut, nor is it due to radio rock dynamo Brendan O'Brien handling production duties. No, the reason why it would be absurd is that it's becoming increasingly clear that Fallon's heart no longer lies in punk rock. That's by no means a bad thing. Indeed his transformation over the past five years from gruff hopeful to modern Americana figurehead could scarcely have been more smooth - certainly so much as to render a retreat counterproductive. Clearly aware of such, Handwritten continues The Gaslight Anthem's logical journey towards the middle of the road; territory they've already mastered and can now legitimately claim as their own.

Sure, there are two defiantly uptempo cuts in '45' and 'Howl,' but in truth even they house a soft centre, with rich melodic bases effectively offsetting any perspective rough edges. Gluing them to the glut of slower numbers is Fallon's songwriting, which here scales new levels of accomplishment. The mid-paced stance does occasionally account for some of his blandest songs to date, but such imperfections are comprehensively outweighed by the pure unadulterated genius we're beginning to take for granted. 'Biloxi Parish' for instance exemplifies the type of all encompassing anthem that's gained band such a strong crossover appeal, with its calculated simplicity and soaring chorus sure to make it a stormer in the live environment. On the other side of the coin, 'Here Comes My Man' sees the singer narrate from a females perspective; a rarity among male writers which alone proves that he remains open to fresh challenges. This record's crowning moment, however, is 'Too Much Blood,' a contemplative stunner that's as close as they've come to an arena-ready sound. Sung with a staggering depth of emotion, it's quite possibly Fallon's most beautiful composition yet, ranking alongside the likes of 'Miles Davis & The Cool' and 'Here's Looking At You Kid' in the realm of Gaslight classics.

Realistically, classic isn't a word you could attribute to Handwritten as a whole, but as with the majority of the band's catalogue it's not far off. Records like The '59 Sound tend to be one offs; moments where every aspect falls into place, brewing a magic that's virtually impossible to rekindle. However, whilst Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem are yet to match the scale of their 2008 effort, a significant slice of its majesty remains, and it's that which is largely to thank for their continued excellence. Who knows? Maybe one day lightening will strike again. Even if it doesn't, it's difficult to imagine anyone complaining should they maintain these standards.



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user ratings (535)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2012



7224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

This'll probably end up with a mountain of reviews, but since I already had it written I thought I may as well post this.

As always, comments/criticisms appreciated.

Rev
July 24th 2012



9291 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review man, glad to see you hard at work as a contributor haha

YoYoMancuso
July 24th 2012



10099 Comments


very nice review bro

newjunkaesthetic93
July 24th 2012



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review. Love this album, although I think within the next couple weeks it's probably gonna fall down from a 4.5 to a high 4 for me.

JackSparrow
July 24th 2012



1686 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Very good review, my favorite for the album. I think this is a 5 mostly because its as good as '59 Sound in a different way. You do it justice though

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2012



18570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review

Digging: Somos - Temple of Plenty

instantradical
July 24th 2012



188 Comments


Nice review and good record. I first started listening to The '59 Sound and American Slang at the same time so I think both records sound pretty darn similar, and this one continues on the same course (which isn't a bad thing at all.)

MagmaWalrus
July 24th 2012



218 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Clearly aware of such, Handwritten continues The Gaslight Anthem's logical journey towards the middle of the road; territory they've already mastered and can now legitimately claim as their own."

this sums up the album beautifully

Adabelle
July 24th 2012



4155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review, album doesn't appeal to my tastes that much although I can see why people love it

Athom
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2012



17114 Comments


first listen was great. every time since i realized i have zero opinions on it.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2012



7224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I went the opposite way. I wasn't sure at first but it's grown on me quite a bit. I'd say it edges ahead of American Slang but it's not as good as their first two.

Thanks for the kind words people.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2012



17114 Comments


i haven't really had the urge to listen to this in the last few days.

ABjordanMM
July 24th 2012



1290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. Diggin' the album.

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - Cope

TooLateToGoBack
July 25th 2012



1671 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pos'd for a great review.

These guys can never do any wrong imo. Album is fantastic(although I doubt it's gonna remain a classic in my eyes).

Counterfeit
July 25th 2012



17819 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No but it just came out so you obviously have bandwagon hopping to do

newjunkaesthetic93
July 25th 2012



1871 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Unless they change up their sound I really don't think they'll ever make another "classic" album, because "Sink or Swim" and "The '59 Sound" are both so good there isn't really any room for improvement. That said, I really hope they just stay on this path of slightly altering the sound on each album because so far it's worked out brilliantly.

AlecBaldwin
July 25th 2012



147 Comments


This is honestly the best review of this album I have read. Great stuff!

johnnyblaze
July 25th 2012



2568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best review yet. good work.

"Who knows? Maybe one day lightening will strike again."

lightning*

Digging: The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams

Eko
July 25th 2012



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

best review for this yet that's for sure

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

AutoRock
July 25th 2012



416 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very well written. Dunno about this yet. Rated it 3 after 3 listens, which would make it their worst... somehow it didn't grab me at all. But that does not mean anything after so little time. Maybe I will like it more after a few listens.



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