Review Summary: The perfect precursor, or plain self-discovery?2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Both. The Gaslight Anthem’s 2008 EP “Senor and the Queen”, simply put, bridges the gap between the TGA that shows promise and the TGA that actually delivers
on said promise. That said, “Senor” is more a vessel for the development of the Gaslight sound than anything else. The music here arguably does not hold a candle to many of the songs on the band’s best work to date, “The ’59 Sound” – though that doesn’t, by any means, suggest that the four songs of “Senor” aren’t the finger-popping, infectious tunes we’ve come to expect from the New Jersey punk-gone-alt-rockers.
The opening track on “Senor and the Queen” is a testament to that. The eponymous first track is a fast one, of the more punk style found on Gaslights debut album “Sink or Swim”. But there’s something a little different about it, rather there’s a connection to be made. It comes in the lyrical content: The song’s line “heart like a tomb” is repeated in the following two TGA full-length albums (the songs “Great Expectations” and “Orphans” respectively). And though it would be impossible to notice this without having heard the two releases prior, the relation is worth noting because it documents the foreshadowing (and possible overarching theme) over the course of the Gaslight discography.
Following track “Wherefore art thou Elvis” is similar to the preceding one in that it is one of the faster, catchier songs on the album. An infectious-as-anything bass line in the verse gives way to the equally as memorable chorus, making the song the better of the first two.
It is in the latter half of the EP, however, that TGA shows glimpses of the direction taken in “The ’59 Sound” and the two albums thereafter not only lyrically but musically as well. Alex Rosamilia’s signature guitar playing is more apparent in “Say I Won’t (Recognize)” than any other song on “Senor and the Queen”, and it allows the band to find a groove in which all the members absolutely shine. Meanwhile the slow paced acoustic tearjerker “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” is quite indicative of the song “Here’s Looking At You, Kid” found on “The ’59 Sound”, and in its emotion proves to be the best and most memorable song on the EP.
What The Gaslight Anthem has in “Senor and the Queen” is the perfect departure from the sound from “Sink or Swim” as well as the perfect introduction to “The ’59 Sound”. In that context the EP is more important as it is the best kind of crutch for people trying to adjust to the new sound, though it also is a killer collection of songs as a stand-alone item – and that shouldn’t be forgotten. The Gaslight Anthem does not skip a beat in this EP and has crafted four great songs that should not go unnoticed by any fan of the band.