The Gaslight Anthem / by E

       The Gaslight Anthem formed in 2006 in New Jersey, composed of Brian Fallon, Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, and Benny Horowitz. They're an indie punk rock band with rough, honest lyrics and guitar riffs that suck you into the song, completely. Brian Fallon's voice is perfectly suited for the edgy, ragged rock, yet somehow maintains the ability to appear smooth when set against the rough lyrics and constant rock back beats.
       I heard "The '59 Sound" at a time in my life when the lyrics, "young boys, young girls, ain't supposed to die on a Saturday night" hit close to home, and have loved them ever since. There is nothing forgiving about their lyrics, and each album becomes more expressive, and truthful, than the last. Their first album, Sink or Swim, had the same rough edge that The Gaslight Anthem has become known for, but the band played it safe on the album, worried about whether fans would like them or not. Their second album, The '59 Sound, showed a little more from the band, as they realized they had a strong fan base and did not have to worry about pleasing their fans, but they were still trying to work their way into a specific place in the rock band demographic. It was not until their third and fourth albums, American Slang and Handwritten, respectively, that the band really began to come into their own. The lyrics from these songs show that the band has grown, which is good, because their fans are not staying the same age as they once were (i.e. I will always love "The '59 Sound," but it just doesn't sound the same now, as it did to an angry 15 year old).
       Each lyric is well constructed, sounding more like a memory than a rehearsed line, and the songs have more emotion in their last album than they had in their first two combined (not that those first albums were not amazing, I can't count the number of times I have played "Here's Lookin At You, Kid," the band was just more confident in their work by this point). The fact that these songs are all so real that you find yourself getting caught up in them, forgetting about how perfectly put together the piece is and how poetic the lyrics are, only makes it all the more lovely (not that most rock would, should, be described as lovely but, in this case, that is more of a compliment than anything else). It is difficult to reminisce on your past without sounding as if you are harping on it, yet the band manages to, not only use their own memories to create emotion (in not just the lyrics, but the music), but to evoke a memory for the listener, from their personal experiences.
       Overall, if you don't smile when you hear Fallon's voice, or when you hear lines like "did you hear your favorite song, one last time" or "And the night was lonely next to me, even the night was lonely next to me" then you need to take a musicology or music appreciation class (you can't make a bad choice with a music course. They're the only classes I actually attend on a regular basis). The lyrics are artful, well thought out, and just plain honest, and each piece is put together so brilliantly that I am hoping it makes it improbable that anyone will not like the band, because they are too great to miss out on.
- E
Posted in