|The Gaslight Anthem - 'American Slang' (SideOneDummy Records)|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Monday, 14 June 2010 05:00|
There are some things in life you'll never quite get your head around right? Whether it's the theory behind quantum mechanics, parallel parking in the dark, or simply using those self-service tills in supermarkets, there's always something that will annoy the life out of you whenever it rears its head. For me that thing is very simple indeed, it's Bruce Springsteen, I just don't get it. The blind idolatry, the stone washed jeans, the stylised angst...ahhh it just makes my blood boil.... and I think it's pretty safe to say I never will get my head around exactly what it is that people like about 'The Boss'.
So when known Springsteen fans The Gaslight Anthem's third album 'American Slang' dropped through URHQ's letterbox, I have to admit I was more than slightly quivering at the prospect of reviewing it. You see, however much I want to like the band (The title track of the band's last album being a great song), that spectre of Springsteen seems to keep rearing it's head over all that they do. So I trust you can understand me when I say that I've really had to wrestle some demons reviewing this album, but I also have to admit it's actually been worth it, as 'American Slang' does offer you the listener much more than just a romp through Asbury Park.
Kicking off with the album's title track the crisp yet bottom end loaded production is once again handled by Ted Hunt (he also produced the band's 'The '59 Sound' album) and it's immediately obvious that Brian Fallon and crew have not strayed too far away from their previous albums successful formula, but wait a minute what's that? There's an almost 'October' era U2 guitar sound underpinning the white soul rhetoric, and bang suddenly I'm interested.
So with this renewed optimism I dig in and tracks like 'Stay Lucky' and 'The Diamond Church Street Choir' suddenly jump out as Gaslight Anthem tracks rather than simply Pseudo Springsteen, the later track actually sounding more like Van Morrison or perhaps early Thin Lizzy. Of course the influence of the band's fantastic home city is never going to be far away and the lyrical references in tracks like 'Bring It On' and 'The Queen Of Lower Chelsea' evoke their atmospheric backdrops perfectly.
'Orphans' and 'Boxer' meanwhile conjure up a spirit not unlike Jesse Malin's excellent 'Love It To Life' album and damn it if I'm not on the path to being a convert thanks to this Clash meets Replacements double injection of life Fallon style. 'Old Haunts' and 'The Spirit Of Jazz' take the final third of 'American Slang' into a more tried and tested territory and I'm feeling like that ghost of Springsteen looming again, that is until the band throw their rulebook well and truly out of the window with the 'Unforgettable Fire-esque' 'We Did It When We Were Young'.
Although I can never profess to 'American Slang' being a contender for my album of the year, at ten tracks long it is an album direct yet diverse enough to connect with audiences new and old worldwide, and more importantly it is an album that should stand proud as The Gaslight Anthem truly finding their own identity.