The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

It sounds like Brian Fallon had a divorce where he felt like he was the only wronged party. This stuff’s so ex-boyfriend that it needs a song about that guy she met through OKCupid that he was always kinda suspicious of. Not to be, but the a song about he’s TOO revealing emotionally (“Too Much Blood”), a song about feeling unappreciated by your old girl (“Here Comes My Man”), and a song where the chorus ends with “Let her go / Let somebody else lay at her feet” (“’45′”, the best song on the album by a yee-haw hee-haw ha-ha ho-ho hee-hee HAHAHAHAHAAHAAAA yodel-a-hee-hoo-honk-honk-honk honkin’ country mile). Oh, and the title track is about how he’s just so old-fashoned and DIY in his emotions and emoting. Best of all, “Biloxi Parish” talks about how his ex made a mistake in leaving him because he’d be with her through the dark times, then passive-aggressively asks “And who else can say that about you?” Lest you think it’s a rhetorical question, he answers it with “Nobody I’ve seen you hanging around” a few lines later. Clingy prick.

Okay, the content’s annoying. How are the songs? Well, they’re worse than last time. “’45′” stands far above everything else here; a pretty great single/introduction, cranking up the catchy guitar lines. Things get far dicier afterwards, as they fall into rewriting ”45′” without the chorus or playing clunky, late-period Pearl Jam licks and lumbering around like old men. Of course, they don’t have the gravitas or the respect to pull off old-period Pearl Jam. And Fallon doesn’t have half the sillyvoice that Vedder does, so his efforts to oversing (and my does he oversing) reach laughable proportions during half the songs here. You kind of just want to tell him that it’s going to be okay, that he doesn’t have to wear leather to convince us that he’s ridden a motorcycle. Not that there’s a song about riding a motorcycle going on here.

Things are more produced, which is fine apropos little, but combined with the baditude and the newfound lumbering you kinda want to tell them to go back to Chris Cornell school, and to listen to a few old Jawbreaker albums to get their heads on straight. Or at least their own old albums.

I do sort of dig “Desire” and “National Anthem,” but it’s nothing you can’t find, and betterer, on every other GA album. Or Titus Andronicus album. Now that’s a band.

4 / 10

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