New Jersey classic punk rockers The Gaslight Anthem have released their latest album Handwritten under new label Mercury records.
However, despite the label change, songs from this new album could have easily appeared on their three previous albums. In short, it sounds exactly the same. Is this a good or bad thing? Handwritten will leave you undecided.
It takes one hell of an effort to keep the same sound for over six years, but perhaps a little something new and exciting would have been better received. With lead single and opening track ’45’ being the album’s punchiest moment, it quickly becomes obvious that what follows isn’t as energetic.
The title track is another fast paced classic punk rock tune, but a catchy one nonetheless. Followed by the slower ‘Here Comes My Man’ and ‘Mulholland Drive’ the album begins to take shape, with such mellow songs helping it to blend in some variety.
However, other than the first two tracks, ‘Howl’ and ‘Desire’ are the only cuts that make you want to sing along (or tap your foot if you’re feeling extra energetic) with the rest of the collection being rather slow-paced and somewhat sombre.
Romanticised lyrics combined with their blue collar Jersey sound and Brendan O’Brien’s pristine production skills, leaves us with a new album that is neither excitingly enthralling nor dreadfully dull, from a band who have stuck to their roots and done what they’ve always done.
Or, as fittingly reflected through the lyrics in ‘Mae’: “stay the same/don’t ever change.”
– Mairead Bilton-Gough