Artist: The Gaslight Anthem
Album: Get Hurt
Genre: Alternative Rock
If you spend too much time attempting to vivisect the songs that make up The Gaslight Anthem’s fifth album, Get Hurt, you may very well miss it entirely. As listeners, we are used to the blue collar, Americana themes presented by the act, traversing through narratives of Saturday nights, lost loves, heartbreak, and a consistent theme of lessening within our lives. Attempting to deduce each track individually, grouping each experience with past Gaslight albums such as Handwritten, American Slang, and The ’59 Sound, will only drift you farther away from the experience that the band has consciously constructed during their time creating Get Hurt. This isn’t your normal Gaslight Anthem album, and it surely shouldn’t be.
The Gaslight Anthem are so warmly loved for good reason. They have provided listeners with multiple excursions in heartland inspired punk rock, and consistently showcased a constant growth within musicianship, but it felt like it was time for a change. Seemingly finding an equilibrium on what the band wished to achieve in a post-The ’59 Sound world with Handwritten, the sonic atmosphere of the band was in need of a new path. Get Hurt is not just another album attached to the band’s roster, it is an existential purging that will seep deep within you, lifting you, drowning you, moving you, questioning you, daring you to feel the culmination of a tired repertoire and inquire within, faced with an unfamiliar setting. Sure, there are moments where you could claim that a particular part is reminiscent of Springsteen, or Petty, or Pearl Jam, or The Cure, or Tom Waits, and even at times Brand New, but that would be doing the band and album a disservice. This is Brian Fallon, Alex Rosamilia, Benny Horowitz, and Alex Levine. This is undoubtedly The Gaslight Anthem.
I don’t sleep at all anymore
And the arms that used to hold me
Well now they done me harm”
Get Hurt begins with “Stay Vicious,” and the shift in tonality is immediately experienced. Sludgy chords fill the atmosphere, clearing the road before singer Brian Fallon takes what is his. Exhibiting a contrast of light and dark, the track switches between the pulsating introductory chords to a bright chorus with guitars weaving in and out of each other, and vocals claiming that the mere act of singing is saving Fallon’s life. Acting as one of the most alien musical outbursts from the band on Get Hurt, “Stay Vicious” should get all those who desire a new sonic adventure ready for more.
While the foreignness presented in the album opener is not as consistent throughout the album as I would have liked, there are aspects of Get Hurt that showcase a more exploratory notion of musicianship and sound throughout, though they are seemingly constrained with the band’s systematic approach to writing. If not anything else, Get Hurt is as personal and introspective as the Fallon and the band have ever been. “1000 Years” is as poppy as the band has ever been, though they are able to bring in tasteful and welcoming additions to their sonic style. With crushing lyrics like, “I heard about a woman once, who did everything asked of her. She died last week and her last words were ‘it wasn’t worth it,’” and an incredibly powerful ending, “1000 Years” is sure to be an easy fan favorite.
Going through the album titled “Get Hurt,” Fallon’s outcries of past pain are brought into the foreground. Gone are the narratives that we are carried through as with past Gaslight Anthem songs, Get Hurt puts the listener front and center for The Gaslight Anthem’s darkest outing yet.
Talkin’ to spirits on the floor.”
“Stray Paper” and “Helter Skeleton” are more typical Gaslight tracks, though it can be felt that the band feels just as strongly and innately about these songs as they ever have. Producer Mike Crossey knows how to make each guitar line sound brighter than the one before, complementing everything digesting in the palate. The drums from Benny Horowitz are full, Alex Levine’s bass is pulsating, and Alex Rosamilia uses guitars that are as full and lush as Fallon’s vocals. With everything layered against each other, the band and Crossey present an experience that is far deeper than what a few listens can uncover — Get Hurt is meant to be earned over time.
With that time, every listener will resonate with each track differently, though “Underneath The Ground” is a specifically strong endeavor. With a soulful touch, and one of the catchiest choruses the band has ever written, the track sneaks up on you. Hard hitting lyrically, though incredibly simplistic, yet effective in the musicianship, “Underneath The Ground” is one of the most beautiful and provoking experiences Get Hurt has to offer. Ranging from spoken word, moving minimalist guitars, and a melancholy atmosphere, “Underneath The Ground” has been on constant repeat since its first hearing.
Closing with “Dark Places,” Get Hurt concludes with ideally the best rock song it could have. The journey through Get Hurt is a heavy one, though “Dark Places” is the perfect revitalization of youth to insert right before an exciting new journey’s end. Acting as an ever changing current, the grooves of “Dark Places” raise you up and pull you down. Let the guitars swing you back and forth, while the rhythms reverberate behind Fallon’s commanding vocals, shouting “If I thought it would help I would carve your name into my heart.”
How something inside of me started to break.
We were living proof, one by one we drifted away.”
Get Hurt may not have been as explorative as an experience that I would have hoped, or that Fallon may have explained it out to be, but it sure is a step into an exciting new direction. By taking more risks, exploring an array of new sounds and their uses within The Gaslight Anthem’s natural habitat of rewarding songwriting, Get Hurt is a much needed and refreshing take on the accomplishments the band has received up to this point. By giving the work the time it needs to grow, I have found it to be the most rewarding Gaslight Anthem experience to date. Get Hurt needed to happen, and now that it is out there in the open, there is no telling what is yet to come.
Review written by Drew Caruso — Follow him on Twitter.