New Release (Mercury)
The Gaslight Anthem were probably sick of getting pegged as a bunch of punked-out Springsteens. . . so they got Brendan O’Brien to produce their major-label debut? Sure enough, and it turns out to be a good match: O’Brien gives them a hefty arena kick without echoing the string of Bruce albums he’s produced. This is larger-than-life, rebel-rousing stuff all the way, as the band takes every occasion to live up to the last word in its name. Shout-along chants remain their specialty; the partial choruses of the first three songs are respectively “aay-hey,” “whoa-oh,” and “sha-la-la.” The band also displays its old-school heart by referencing vinyl records in the first two songs. Most of the songs concern relationships, which for Brian Fallon are quite literally a matter of life and death (“I’d just die if you ever took your love away,” he sings without irony on “Mulholland Drive”). The whole thing would fall apart if the passion ever sounded faked, but the intensity never lets up, even on the acoustic closer.
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