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The Gaslight Anthem favors reliable consistency on ‘Get Hurt’

By Stephanie Roman / Staff Writer

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The Gaslight Anthem

Get Hurt

Grade: B

Gruff, grating vocals mixed with trills, finesse, melodious riffs and smooth chords certainly seems like a counterproductive and illogical combination.

Except it’s the formula molded by New Jersey pseudo-punks The Gaslight Anthem on their new album Get Hurt. The guitars, bass and drums provide an almost delicate backdrop to the deadened and harsh tones of vocalist Brian Fallon. This scenario shouldn’t work, but since the guitars carry the melody — rather than Fallon — this new approach functions extremely well.

Since its 2006 conception, The Gaslight Anthem has resisted any distinct genre classification. They somehow work a little bit of punk rock masochism, a little bit of Pearl Jam, a little bit of indie-alternative and a lot of Springsteen into almost every track.

Strangely, the contrast between excellent band instrumentation and Fallon’s guttural singing,which degenerates with each new release, makes their fifth full-length album a commendable effort that doesn’t differ much from their consistent past releases. Despite this, it’s probably the weakest of their discography, but that isn’t meant to be a deterrent. Rather, because it’s more of what’s expected, it carries The Gaslight Anthem’s trend forward into already-established territory.

The main difference from previous albums is that they slowed down the pace in some places. For instance, the title track begins with a minimalist, lethargic verse, full of Fallon’s  croaking lyrics. It’s an area of momentous quietude amid a rock album. This crawling verse then merges into a full chorus that manages to catch your attention with its straight up symphonic beats. The guitars and bass hit hard when they hit, but they’re missed when not in play.

“Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” is aptly titled for its brash and thundering nature  and stands out by far as the best. The song embraces The Gaslight Anthem’s hard rock and punk roots and ultimately delivers some epic thrash to an otherwise pretty tame record. It’ll probably remind you of “Stay Lucky” from 2010’s American Slang.

A little bit of sadness mixed with rock ‘n’ roll, Get Hurt surreptitiously alludes to The Gaslight Anthem’s forefathers on the deluxe edition’s bonus tracks. “Sweet Morphine” draws from The Rolling Stones and a little song of theirs called “Sister Morphine,” while another track, “Halloween,” borrows the name of a well-known Misfits jam. No, it’s not a cover, and it doesn’t even sound remotely like that hell-raising thriller. But the homage wasn’t made mistakenly.

Another tribute — “Helter Skeleton” — flirts with pop swing, making it an easily approachable tune for those unfamiliar with the band and some of its more melancholic work, such as the succeeding track, “Underneath the Ground,” which is notably morbid in its death imagery.

Get Hurt is a must-listen for every punk or indie rock fan, whether tyro or aficionado. It follows a pretty consistent formula. By no means does this album break the mold The Gaslight Anthem created for themselves,but despite any lack of imagination, it’s a satisfying listen. Though Get Hurt might seem disappointing for being more of the same, you can’t blame the artists for sticking to a formula that works.

 

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The Gaslight Anthem favors reliable consistency on ‘Get Hurt’