The Gaslight Anthem promised us a completely new sound on their new album. And when you listen to opening track “Stay Vicious”, it does send out a different vibe. The guitars are as heavy as we’ve ever heard them on a Gaslight Anthem song and vocalist Brian Fallon sounds like he’s been surviving on nothing but bourbon and five packs of cigarettes a day when he wasn’t chewing pieces of broken glass.
Listening to the rest of the album however, you’ll notice that the changes aren’t too drastic. “1,000 Years”, “Helter Skeleton”, “Ain’t That A Shame” and the balladry of “Break Your Heart” still very much sound like The Gaslight Anthem, even if they don’t mention AM radios, old cars or diners in the lyrics. For that, you’ll have to go back three albums to “The ’59 Sound”. That doesn’t mean “Get Hurt” is a disappointing album. There are more than enough decent songs on here and the production (courtesy of Mike Crossey, who previously worked with bands such as Foals and Arctic Monkeys) sounds great. It’s just that with every single album these guys put out, I find them wandering further and further from what I liked most about them.
I guess “Get Hurt” is something of a transitional album and things can go either way from here. Either they’ll surprise us next time or they’ll end up sounding like Bon Jovi, completely losing that heartland grit they became known for. Fallon may swear that he still loves rock & roll in the opening track, but I’m worried that he and I might use different definitions.