Release Date: Aug 12, 2014
Record label: Universal
There's always been something a little nostalgic about the earnest, rust belt rock of the Gaslight Anthem, and it wouldn't be unfair to say that the band has been looking to the past with a laser focus on the rugged songwriting of New Jersey's favorite son, Bruce Springsteen. On Get Hurt, the fifth studio album from the Garden State rockers, the band expand their influences to create what might be their most unique album to date. Exploring the rock sounds of the '70s, the band show off their versatility as they take listeners on a guided tour of the LP bins of the day.
After eight years and four studio albums, New Jersey-based rock band The Gaslight Anthem seemed to have paved its direction. Through their heavy guitars and rhythms and singer Brian Fallon’s guttural howls, the post-punk four-piece could summon nostalgia in both joyful and aching ways. But on The Gaslight Anthem’s fifth LP, Get Hurt, the band made a conscious effort to diversify its sound and identity.
Singer Brian Fallon’s revelation that The Gaslight Anthem’s new musical direction was instigated by The 1975 set alarm bells ringing. Would the band known for its greasy heartland rock trade burly riffs for shiny guitar pop? Thankfully not. Rather than swiping The 1975’s style, they enlisted their producer, Mike Crossey, whose CV also boasts the meatier likes of Foals and Arctic Monkeys.For all Fallon’s talk of a massive switch-up, his band’s fifth album doesn’t shift too much from their usual lovelorn, jagged melodies.
Review Summary: "All in all, I find that nothing stays the same." Armed with a new label and some new influences, New Jersey's The Gaslight Anthem have crafted a remarkably puzzling record with Get Hurt, the band's fifth full-length offering. Part of the curiosity stems from the pre-release interviews Brian Fallon and company have provided; in particular, Fallon's presser with Rolling Stone raised some initial eyebrows. While promoting the titular track, Fallon disclosed, "[W]e wanted to see where else we could go with the band.
It's always been there under the New Jersey grit, but this band fully unleashes its inner Who on its fifth studio album. "So what you wanna say is/My head is a hurricane?" singer-guitarist Brian Fallon howls in "Rollin' and Tumblin'," sounding like the '73 Roger Daltrey, with the cutting, lyric awareness of Pete Townshend. Made with Arctic Monkeys producer Mike Crossey, Get Hurt is a fresh, anthemic striving – further from E Street, driven by epic metal guitars.
Often when us music critic types label an album as a "break-up record," we're reading between the lines — or perhaps grasping (inappropriately) at a singer's personal life. But it doesn't take much scrutiny to tell that Get Hurt, the fifth full-length from New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem, is about broken hearts. Every song sounds shattered, desperate, a soundtrack to picking up the pieces and having to pinch bloody shards of glass out of your hands as you go.
Brian Fallon may have inadvertently caused fans of the Gaslight Anthem a few sleepless nights recently. During the recording of Get Hurt, the quartet had seemingly decided to burn their bridges, throw their trademark sound of adrenalized, literate, punk ‘n’ soul-infused rock into the Raritan River ,and start over. It’s an admirably gutsy move, considering the success of 2012’s vibrant Handwritten which sold 40,000 out of the gate in the US, hitting number three before pole-vaulting the pond to début at number two in Ye Olde Blighty.
On ‘Get Hurt’, their fifth studio album it appears that The Gaslight Anthem have finally decided to move on from the soul inspired punk rock for which they are known. Changing direction is always a dangerous move for a band synonymous with a particular sound, and The Gaslight Anthem are no different. Things could have gone either way; the band could have emerged triumphant, proving their credentials as more than just the Springsteen imitators they are still viewed as by some, or it could have been a disaster.
If you think about it, and apply just the teeniest bit of interpretation, each addition to The Gaslight Anthem's catalogue of albums from 2007 onwards possessed a title that encompassed its theme. Debut Sink Or Swim is self-explanatory in its statement of intent; a homegrown band taking their chances as contenders with the world. Breakthrough sophomore The '59 Sound further established their aspirations to music outside their circle of punk-based peers, an appreciation of tradition in an ever-changing cultural landscape.
The Gaslight Anthem isn’t a punk band anymore. They’ve gone lengths to shed that label since 2010’s American Slang introduced them to a wider mainstream audience. Frontman Brian Fallon traded screams for croons, and song tempos decelerated as the production got cleaner. The band cited an appetite for new sounds and stylistic experimentation, but hardcore fans felt betrayed.
The Gaslight AnthemGet Hurt(Island)2 1/2 out of 5 stars To their credit, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem was tired of the incessant Springsteen comparisons leveled their way and decided on this, their fifth full length studio release, to make a change. But shifting to a heavier Pearl Jam styled sound might not be the improvement many were hoping for. Existing fans won’t be disappointed in the overall makeover.
When the Gaslight Anthem first came to prominence in the late 00s their punk-indebted take on blue-collar rock earned them favourable comparisons to fellow New Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen. Their fifth album is a disappointment, however, with the 12 tracks here smoothed of any interesting rough edges and aimed squarely at stadium crowds. The rockers are all blustering huff and puff with little in the way of inspiration, but they sound positively inspired when compared with the ballads, which are either insipid (Break Your Heart) or overblown and executed with all the grace and subtlety of Nickelback (Selected Poems).
With their chest-beating, Springsteen-sized anthems, the Gaslight Anthem have never exactly rivalled Steve Reich in the minimalist-subtlety stakes. Get Hurt, however, takes their trademark sound to previously unimaginable levels of bluster. Stay Vicious staggers along under the weight of its own sludge-paced grunge aesthetic, whereas elsewhere the spectres of Bon Jovi and hair metal loom large; and only 1,000 Years has the kind of ludicrously, air-punchingly huge chorus that this sound needs.
Who says the Gaslight Anthem doesn’t have a sense of humor? You know, besides everyone who’s heard a single note of their music. But Brian Fallon has to be fucking with us when he says that Get Hurt is “completely different than anything we had ever done before” and that it was inspired by “a lot of poetry books and a lot of Bob Dylan. ” He should know this is inherently funny, because the Gaslight Anthem is a band almost exclusively defined by their relationship with Bruce Springsteen, and now here they are, announcing a total artistic rebrand by namedropping the two main influences of the Boss’ earliest days.
The Gaslight Anthem spent their previous four albums sticking to more or less the same sonic formula: a couple of brawny, gritty tube-amp guitars accompanied by frontman Brian Fallon bellowing away, playing the classic songwriter's role of the secretly wounded, soft-hearted tough guy. Fellow New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen has always been an obvious inspiration, but the Gaslight Anthem filtered that influence through an '80s punk and alt-rock lens, as if the Boss had spent the Reagan years touring dingy dive bars with the likes of the Replacements instead of packing out Giants Stadium. However, their latest album, Get Hurt, is a shockingly misguided assemblage of over-processed hair-metal guitars, '80s adult-contemporary keyboard swill, and hilariously overblown skullduggery.
All eyes are on the Gaslight Anthem to see what they come up with on album No. 5, with the band in some pre-release interviews telling fans to expect things they've never heard before. And while that's pushing it (this is a Gaslight album, plain and simple), there are some excellent moments of musical stretching out on Get Hurt. Unfortunately, things don't get off to the best start, with all-important opener "Stay Vicious" showing off the stiff and expressionless snare drum sound front and center, and a weird guitar tone quickly following it up.
If The Gaslight Anthem’s last album, 2012’s Handwritten, had one major flaw, it was that frontman Brian Fallon and crew were clearly trying to evolve their gruff, heart-on-sleeve rock roots beyond its humble punk roots—and they just weren’t bold enough about it. That accusation can’t be leveled at Get Hurt. The New Jersey band’s new album is its most ambitious, its most sprawling, and its most risk-taking.
Make no mistake, The Gaslight Anthem’s latest is a break up album. It’s not, however, a weepy, melancholy affair like Beck’s Sea Change, but more of a “Fuck it, I’m moving on,” declaration, spread out over a dozen songs. The vibe is set in place right from the start, with the loud chugging guitars on “Stay Vicious” and the lyrics, “Well, the arms that used to hold me, well, now they’ve done me harm,” setting the band onto their most musically diverse record yet in their five record canon.
For a few years, Brian Fallon was out in front of the Gaslight Anthem as it vied for the title of Greatest American Rock Band, and what did it get him? A bunch of Atlas-weight comparisons to the fellow New Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen, a collapsed marriage and a band that looked in the mirror and considered calling it quits. That’s some price for chasing a title that’s not even there for the taking anymore. Rock is a decreasingly important part of the musical landscape, and world-beaters are few and far between.
The Gaslight Anthem Get Hurt (Island) Any lyric Brian Fallon puts to song could be scribed in tattoo ink across a banner draped on a heart. He's a hopeless romantic, introspective poet, and author with a strong sense of imagery. All those avenues to advanced writing come through on the Gaslight Anthem's fifth studio LP Get Hurt, a stylistically diverse collection that reaches for the stars, but can't touch the gold standard of the Jersey boys' 2010 hit American Slang.