The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang
I bet you can not remember the last time you saw a release by SideOneDummy Records reviewed on your favorite blog. That is not because SideOneDummy does not release some good stuff; Piebald is one of my favorite bands ever after all, but SideOneDummy does not generally release the type of music the blogosphere digs. The Gaslight Anthem seems to be the rare crossover that is appeal to both the Vans’ Warped Tour crowd as well as the blogosphere. Their latest album, American Slang has been widely praised by sites like Absolutepunk.net as well as sites like Pitchfork.
What makes them so easily praised is that they are the complete package. They have a great sound. They cite influences like Springsteen, The Ramones, Joe Strummer, and The Cure. I find their sound to be like The Hold Steady covering Reinventing Axl Rose-era Against Me. And I do not just reference those two bands sound wise but lyric wise as well.
Singer/songwriter Brian Fallon produces the type of Garden State poetry that launched the careers of Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and even Ted Leo. On “Orphans” he sings the Lawrence Ferlinghetti-esque line “Goodbye circus wheel, may you rest along the sea/I have given you the fire of my youth and the triumph o’er my enemies”. If that does not tell you this is not standard “punk” fare I do not know what will.
The album is full of repeated words, themes, and phrases. The words “when we were young” appear in several songs as does the phrases “the cool” and the question “wasn’t I good to you?” These concepts seem to come to a head in the album’s penultimate song “The Spirit of Jazz”. The song is posed as a letter to a former lover but something tells me it is not literally a person. The chorus’ lyrics are among the best I have heard this year. Fallon sings “Was I good to you the wife of my youth?/not another soul could love you like my rotten bones do/so I will wait on the edges in between/these New York streets, where you and I would meet”.
Although everything is not quite roses on American Slang. The album’s closing track, “We Did It When We Were Young” seems woefully out of place on an otherwise fairly uptempo album. Lyrically the track fits in fine but it seems a shame to end the album with far and away it’s slowest song.
But besides that slight gaff, the album is near perfect. It is no wonder critics seem to be rallying behind The Gaslight Anthem and American Slang, the album is the type of career maker that comes around only every so often.
Rating: 8.3/10
MP3: The Gaslight Anthem “The Spirit of Jazz”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!