Words by Bill San Antonio
Ilt’s late on a Friday afternoon, and your significant other has just broken up with you. You rush home, slam your bedroom door shut and turn the radio on, and proceed to drown your sorrows deep within your favorite songs until Monday morning rolls around. When you take that first step out into the Land of the Living once again, you won’t be the same person—after all, a broken heart takes time to heal—but you’ll feel startlingly better because the music has helped you through another tough time, as it always does, and you know it’ll be waiting when the next break-up comes along.
This, more or less, is the concept of the Gaslight Anthem’s new record, Handwritten, and while the case can be made that this concept is the same for nearly every piece of music ever conceived, written, performed, recorded and/or distributed, the New Brunswick, NJ quartet sell the idea pretty well with their first major label release (Mercury Records, a subdivision of Island Def Jam).
At the very least, the music-as-therapy diatribe can be felt through the album’s first two tracks, “45” (initially released as a 7” single in early May) and “Handwritten,” empowering the band’s lead vocalist, the smoky crooner Brian Fallon, by justifying the skeletons in his closet as they appear in the nine songs that follow. Despite “45”’s largely upbeat nature—as well as being the only Handwritten track with close ties to the band’s punk roots, as the majority of the album serves as an extension of the Horrible Crowes’ Elsie, Fallon’s 2011 side project—the rest of Handwritten is sad, regretful and, at times, remorseful, of a more innocent protagonist whose primary sin was that he grew up and lived.
© July 24, 2012
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