The Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten

The Gaslight Anthem
(Mercury/Island Def Jam)

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Handwritten is Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem’s first album on Mercury Records, but it’s certainly a worthy release for their introduction into the mainstream. Classic punk roots meet a Springsteen-influenced appreciation for melody and lyrics on this record.

The Gaslight Anthem certainly knows how to rock out, as many of their tracks demonstrate. All it takes is a short listen of the introduction to “Biloxi Parish” to grasp that. However, what sets them apart is their attention to words. The title track, for instance, obviously concerns writing. The lyrics are surprisingly romantic, with lines like “I’m in love with the way you’re in love with the night / And it travels from heart, to limb, to pen.” “Too Much Blood” reveals in the anxiety of giving it all away through song with the refrain “If I put too much blood on the page.”

There are some brilliant moments to just thrash around, like “45” and “Howl,” but what really drew me to Handwritten was how it sets itself apart. The harmonica on “Keepsake” is a brilliant touch, and “National Anthem” is a surprisingly gentle, acoustic ballad about trying to salvage a fraying relationship. The Gaslight Anthem is not a band to be wedded to a genre or sound, and though this is their fourth album, I’m sure they will go far from here.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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