Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Review: The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (* * * *)

Remember the good old days? You know, the ones where Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie ruled the airwaves and large, American cars were still cool. Of course you don't, you're a 20-something like me, which means that when Ghostbusters came out, you were in diapers. The Gaslight Anthem want to take you back to that magical time with their new album, "The '59 Sound." It combines punk rock with very Springsteenesque vocal and lyrical qualities and it makes for one of the most compelling punk-rock albums in a LONG time.

Singer Brian Fallon's gruff voice delivers stories of blue collar, middle-class American struggles while the band pounds out guitar and drum riffs, making the whole experience seem earnest and heartfelt. Fallon certainly isn't the first to sing about broken families, old cars, and the need to leave small towns, but he uses vivid imagery and a few borrowed lyrics (Counting Crows, Paul Simon) to separate himself from his peers. It doesn't always work, and you might get tired of hearing songs about Bobby Jean, Sally, and Maria (and about a dozen other girls) by the end of the album, but for a young songwriter it's a remarkable effort.

The weakness and the strength of "The '59 Sound" is its consistency. There's not a weak song on the album, but there's also not a lot of variation either. The production is similar throughout the album (including the reverb on the vocals), and the pace is fairly constant as well, which can be tiring by the end of the album. Also, the song structures are all the basic ABABCB style. This makes the few stylistic departures some of the album highlights, especially the fantastic "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues."

All-in-all, a rock 'n' roll album that deserves the praise it is likely to recieve. Who knew that punk could sound so...classic?

Favorite Tracks: Great Expectations, Miles Davis & The Cool, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues