If you are anything like me, then you have been following The Gaslight Anthem’s career for a while now. You fell in love with their gritty yet whimsical sound in Sink or Swim and Senor and the Queen, then again with the 1950’s-esque heartfelt and innovative sound of The ’59 Sound. You were probably a little surprised by the almost London Calling ethos (not sound) of American Slang but thought, “This is still obviously the Gaslight Anthem, so I can get behind it.” Then when Handwritten came out, you probably thought “This is kind of boring but still good songwriting. Way more mainstream than their other releases, but whatever. They are still pretty close to the band I love.”
If all of this is true then 1: We should probably hang out (because we like, TOTALLY click, you know?) and 2: When the Gaslight Anthem’s newest release Get Hurt dropped last month you were probably a little bit…confused. Track one, entitled “Stay Vicious”, sounds like they are trying way too hard to sound like a worse Audioslave. Then they tried to remind everyone that they were still The Gaslight Anthem by going back to a light and melodic kind-of chorus. In its entirety, the song just sounds inorganic and forced, which makes me uncomfortable as a listener.
Their next song “1,000 Years” is kind of a bridge between “Stay Vicious” and the more classic Gaslight sound. The lyrics are a little more personal, and the over all sound is a little less comically abrasive. The feel of the song is more reminiscent of The Hold Steady as opposed to a weird Sound Garden yielding a more organic feel that makes a little bit more sense when looking at Gaslights larger body of work. Then, out of the mist and confusion comes the albums title track, Get Hurt. Track three sets the tone for the rest of the album both sonically and lyrically. The bulk of the lyrics are the musings of a sensitive man dealing with love, loss, starting over and deciding where to go from here. Instrumentally speaking, the rest of the album fits nicely in a category with the other slow and mid tempo songs in the Gaslight catalogue. Granted, the album is lacking its songs similar to “We Came to Dance”, “The 59 Sound”, “American Slang” and “Handwritten”, but singles don’t define a band. The personality is between the hits, and Get Hurt has a ton of personality.
I realize saying this will put me in the minority of reviewers but overall, I really like this album. Yes it is different and yes I HATE the opening track, but after track one every song has its place within the album and makes sense aesthetically speaking. In an interview with Noisey, lyricist and front man Brian Fallon admitted that critics probably wouldn’t like Get Hurt at all but the fans will grow to love it and accept the album as a practical next step in the progression of the band. This seems to ring true, but I think that it’s a little of an overstatement. Anyone who appreciates The Gaslight Anthem’s more bluesy songs and lyrics will like this album from the get go. I would be surprised if the long time fans were not at least accepting of the album, providing they went into it with an open mind.
Get Hurt is a personal favorite of mine overtaking both American Slang and Handwritten in songwriting, both sonically and lyrically. After the initial speed bump of the opening track, it becomes one of the better put together albums they have released in recent memory. To the skeptical die-hard fans I say this: Just give it a chance, kids. You may be surprised.
1. “Stay Vicious” 3:33
2. “1,000 Years” 3:38
3. “Get Hurt” 3:43
4. “Stray Paper” 2:48
5. “Helter Skeleton” 3:13
6. “Underneath the Ground” 4:05
7. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” 2:50
8. “Red Violins” 3:20
9. “Selected Poems” 2:53
10. “Ain’t That a Shame” 3:02
11. “Break Your Heart” 4:20
12. “Dark Places” 3:44