Review: The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

the-gaslight-anthem

The Gaslight Anthem have always felt a little out of place in the scene that they find themselves in. They’re a little too influenced by Americana and just a tad too little punk to really fit nicely where you want them to compared with their peers. But that difference is what guarantees their talent; each and every record is very much worthy of your attention.

Get Hurt is another example of their ever growing talent at song writing. Instead of infusing their music with energy just to stay on par with past records, Get Hurt steps down and paces itself to ensure that you’re paying attention.

With exception to the first track, Get Hurt sounds like a Gaslight album. It sounds like an electric folk record, with just a taste of punk. This is at once the heaviest and softest album of the band’s career. The mixture of sounds can be unsettling at first. The guitars are savagely fuzzy and rough, in the same vein as Weezer’s Maladroit, and not nearly as neat and trim as anything from American Slang or The ’59 Sound. But the hard guitars are cut to size with soft tracks held together with the soft thump of the pedal drum and soft strumming every few songs.

While breaking the energy isn’t anything new for The Gaslight Anthem, the focus has never been this heavy on it. Often times, it sounds like a loving mixture of Brand New’s more somber moments and The Get Up Kids circa On a Wire, held tight with Brian Fallon’s scratchy vocals. While the off and on bouts of energy can seem neurotic at times, the switches keep the songs from sounding too similar and gives each its own chance to ignite at any second.

The greatest asset to the sound of Get Hurt is drummer Benny Horowitz’ steady beat throughout the album. He never seems to go crazy at any point, instead maintaining the restraint that is key to the style of the record. Even as the guitars lose their energy, the drums stay strong, dampening just enough to set the pace.

Alex Levine’s bass lines ride the beat wonderfully, playfully bouncing throughout the album. Alex Rosamilia and Brian Fallon’s guitar work are the biggest differences in sound, as they are constantly shifting from the deep crackle of distorted power chords to the jangling pop of acoustic folk. The way that they test and toy with genres is endearing.

Title track “Get Hurt” is as soft as a song can be as it opens with almost a minute of just soft drumming and the guilded bounce of the bass propping Fallon’s voice before breaking out into a chorus equal parts subdued Brand New and Jimmy Eat World. “Helter Skelter” finds a more traditional sounding Gaslight song in the loud rock and hypnotizing guitar notes overpowering chords and bass lines as Fallon shouts back. “Selected Poems” starts off quiet against the click of Horowitz’s drum sticks before breaking into a frenzied chorus reminiscent of Weezer (especially the addicting guitar solo).

Lyrically, Fallon sounds similar to past Gaslight albums; a healthy mix of storytelling, regret and lost love. That not a dig by any means. As a lyricist, Fallon is able to tap into a manner of storytelling that feels authentic and classic without coming off as generic or boring. One of the best examples is in “1,000 Years”, as Fallon sings, “’Don’t look back,’ I heard a voice. In velvet I couldn’t see. The pictures were black and white, and the details were in between. I heard about a woman once who did everything ever asked of her. She died last week and her last words were, ‘It wasn’t worth it’”.

There are few happy endings to these songs if any, but that should be expected with an album titled Get Hurt. But instead of a depressed theme, the album abounds in the maturity and understanding of pain that accompanies growing up. Though the record is steeped in regret, it’s not bitter, such as during “Red Violins” when he sings, “Twenty pounds of curses came to visit me tonight. Salt for all the cuts, blankets for the cold, prayers to keep the devil far away from those I love. And there were red violins playing in my dreams. One for me, and two for me, and one at Jesus’ feet. And one I only reach to for sympathy”.

Get Hurt is in many ways a concept album exploring pain and regret, and in others the reconciliation and understanding of it. Though I can’t truthfully say that any of the songs have become my new all-time favorites from the band, there are significant staples to their discography that will be necessary for live shows. Regardless, Get Hurt is a powerful record of sublime skill.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

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