Despite only two years passing since their last album, The Gaslight Anthem have ventured into new territory, abandoning their traditional sound for the majority of an album that shall worry, confuse and or delight fans. Get Hurt has an impressive collection of some of their heaviest tracks to date, along with slow indie-folk tracks which could arguably be snuck into the charts, not to mention a few classic tracks which could fit anywhere on their discography.
After the first listen, you have a strange feeling that something isn’t quite right. It certainly wasn’t lead singer Brian Fallon, who was on delightful form as always; his dry and gruff vocals wooing even the fiercest of rocker. After numerous listens you find the tracks in themselves are perfectly good too; the main fault lies in the band trying to go in too many different directions at once.
Confusion and delight were my initial reactions upon hearing the opening tracks of Get Hurt. Expecting the usual fast paced, almost punk guitar melodies of Alex Rosamilla, I was greeted with the crunching riff of ‘Stay Vicious’, a track which Black Sabbath would be proud of. The listener is brought to a very sad halt in tempo, with uncharacteristically slow sections, failing to match the awesomely powerful riff. They really should have been two different songs. You could almost get annoyed with them but then Rosamilla launches into a phenomenal solo, worthy of the axe chiefs of old. Tribute the old gods is certainly reflected in the first few songs, with ‘1000 Years’ displaying in parts Maiden-esque vibes. This for me is one of the top tracks on the album, with a chorus that’s going to be lapped up by audiences. This is one of the faces of the new Gaslight Anthem, so far so good.
I fear, however, the fans of the old Gaslight Anthem fans might react badly to the slower sounds that follow. Certain tracks such as the indie based ‘Get Hurt’ and the poppy ‘Underneath The Ground’ are likely to be treated with some hostility, with the band opting for less power and speed than fans will be used to. Taken at face values, they’re all good; there isn’t a bad track on the album, they just aren’t what fans will be used to.
Worry not hardcore fans however, redemption can however be found in tracks such as ‘Helter Skeleton’, which has that classic, feel good Gaslight sound that we all know and love. Upon listening, I felt compelled to grab a glass of Jack Daniel’s and fire a gun into the air (despite being from Surrey and hating whiskey). ‘Rollin’ & Tumblin” and ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ are also signs that the old Gaslight Anthem are still live and kicking. It just seems that they, strangely, have opted to throw folk-indie tracks into the melting pot.
The band seemingly stands at a crossroads, contemplating which route to go down. Get Hurt suggest they are unable to decide whether to get heavier, lighter or stay the same. Give me an album containing all of one and I’d be happy. For now however, the result is a strange blend of tracks with little or no continuity between them. Great songs, bad album.
Get Hurt is released on 11th August via Virgin EMI Records.