The Gaslight Anthem are one of the most interesting rock bands to creep out of the woodwork in the past few years, and their new album American Slang delivers more of the same pop hooks bristling with attitude that their previous albums have. However, American Slang looks set to break these guys right into the mainstream.
It certainly is risky being a band with the word 'Anthem' in your name. Many (me included) could see it as setting a precedent for the sound they create, and the potential for them to fall flat on their faces instead of being anthemic is huge. Luckily, American Slang offers 10 fantastic songs worthy of 'Anthem' status. It plays like a greatest hits album, albeit a very short one. Each song is perfectly crafted song a sing-along chorus, sometimes reaching even Springsteen-esque levels of epic. One such moment is album opener, standout and title track American Slang, kicking the album off in exactly the right direction.
The title track has some great layered vocals over the weaving and jagged guitar lines, which are just as much of a hook as the great vocal parts, in terms of melody and lyrics. It is one of the more rocky songs on the album, with power chords taking the place of more intricate melodies as showcased in the dark and atmospheric album closer We Did It When We Were Young, a song that flips The Gaslight Anthem blueprint on it's head but still maintaining the sing-along edge.
The album has an almost 'retro' sound to it, particularly evident in the guitar work on Stay Lucky and the production sound of the album. It is a good mix of modern pop punk with a sound from back in the past and it works to great effect, creating something that is perhaps timeless. This is shown again in The Queen of Lower Chelsea, a song that takes cues from The Police, but seems like a respectful homage as opposed to a blatant rip off.
Another of the more 'retro' songs on American Slang is The Diamond Church Street Choir. This is a much more laid back, almost swing/jazz song. It is playful and contains that trademark sing-along chorus and the fluid guitar work, which is an understated highlight throughout the album.
Put simply, I could go on for pages about how great this album is. There are ten great songs here, each offering something different but equally important to the album. At 34 minutes it is a little on the short side, but it feels like a perfectly formed cohesive piece of work. This deserves to light up the charts and get heard by millions.