Artist: The Gaslight Anthem
Title: Get Hurt
Record Label: Island Records
Release Date: 18th August 2014
There haven’t been many applications for the positon of ‘world conquering wholesome rock band’ since Kings of Leon decided to become pompous, cliché rock stars but if there was a unit to fill the vacant cowboy boots of the Nashville group, it’s New Jersey everymen, The Gaslight Anthem. Slowly but surely, the four piece have been gathering pace, sparking global devotion towards their blue-collar punk ‘n’ roll. Now on the eve of releasing their fifth LP, ‘Get Hurt’ it would seem the stars have aligned and it’s now time for Brian Fallon and his merry men to step confidently into the big time but there’s the assurance that this isn’t a band to disappear up their own arseholes.
‘Get Hurt’ has been spawned from the desire to tread new turf; the band’s purpose to create something new was a key mission statement for The Gaslight Anthem. Speaking with NME, guitarist and vocalist Brian Fallon stated “You get a realisation at some point in your career that whatever it is you do, you can no longer continue to do it. You just realise you can’t put out the same records forever.” While another key turning point can be taken from an unlikely source; The 1975. Fallon proceeded to declare “We were like, ‘well that sounds different – what would happen if a band like us works with a guy who makes records sound like that?” That guy being super producer Mike Crossey who handled the duties of crafting The 1975’s self-titled LP. Lastly, contrast and juxtaposition were high on the agenda, the quartet had the urge for a punk rock band to sound ‘heavy and pretty’ in equal measure. Without much fucking around ‘Stay Vicious’ kickstarts ‘Get Hurt’ with the manifesto of ‘heavy and pretty’ broadly daubed across the song like Fallon’s heavily inked arms. This is a song that erupts to the sound of chainsaw guitars and explosive drum licks – Fallon too adopts a gravelled vocal that recounts Bruce Springsteen after a night smashing back the bourbon. Referencing the track’s moniker, TGA have never sounded so ‘vicious’ – akin to the film Gremlins, this critter is pure barbed malevolence – until a chiming mid-section exposes a soft, fleshy underbelly and the Jersey boys go all Gizmo on us. Fluffy, and indeed ‘pretty’, ‘Stay Vicious’ attests to the unit’s lust to merge the raucous with the delicate. Elsewhere on ‘Get Hurt’ the heaviness is toned down to a more recognisable punk ‘n’ roll you’d expect from TGA, however, the drive to intersperse textures of tender touches are a prominent fixture. Aside from the barbed riffs, spit ‘n’ saw dust rock flecked with sweetly tinged moments, TGA’s new found influence in The 1975 can be heard on ‘Underneath The Ground’. Anchored as the poppiest number on the band’s fifth outing, there’s a considered, chiming quality that bubbles and skips, buoyed by a lonesome hue.
Fallon is the ringmaster of ‘Get Hurt’, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the frontman’s grizzly tones and self-deprecating wordplay. Lyrically, this is an album which could be perceived as being down on its luck but any glum references instead reveal themselves as defiant nods towards survival– it’s a horrible cliché but in the aspect of ‘Get Hurt’ – “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” could have been the LP’s alternative title. Personal effacing is bountiful while key moments crop up on the title track; stripped to its bare sinews, Fallon can be heard reflecting “I keep my wounds without a bandage” as to expose himself to life’s misgivings. Equally, notions of defeat but never submission roll from Fallon’s lips “I came to get hurt/might as well do your worse to me”. Despite TGA’s troubled lyrical content, you’re never too far away from a supportive pat on the back or a reassuring arm round the shoulder. ‘Helter Skeleton’ is another half ‘n’ half march through Americana flecked punk and chiming pockets of beauty. “Why don’t you lean on me for a while” muses Fallon before barking over surging fretwork “there will always be a soft spot in my cardiac arrest”. Future fan favourite and no messing comeback single ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’ typifies ‘Get Hurt’, this is TGA spewing out dirt under your fingernails American rock ‘n’ roll at a hurtling speed, like they do best. Amongst the grubby tones a bold Fallon announces “You say I’m hopelessly devoted to misery/maybe I ain’t so devoted no more” like a big middle finger to any ‘woe as me’ vibes.
Toying with unpredictable sonic touchpoints and a big name producer could have diluted The Gaslight Anthem’s rugged personality but it’s given the New Jersey gang an added level of vigour to propel them stratospheric.
‘Get Hurt’ is an album to puff your chest out to. A record to set you up for the day. A collection of tracks that’ll pick you up, brush you down and kick you square in the arse.