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CD review: The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘Handwritten’

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Annie Zaleski

The Details

The Gaslight Anthem
Handwritten
Four stars

Proud Jersey residents The Gaslight Anthem have never been shy about assimilating their inspirations: gritty punk, the blue-collar anthems of Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam’s raucous rock. The band’s major-label debut, Handwritten, clearly has designs on the level of popularity enjoyed by the latter two, what with radio-friendly production from Brendan O’Brien and ultra-focused songwriting full of massive riffs and even bigger choruses (see: “45,” “Desire,” the title track).

Longtime fans shouldn’t worry, however: These new songs feel like a natural progression from Gaslight’s previous two records (The ’59 Sound and American Slang), and despite the more accessible bent, the music is rich and diverse, from two-minute rager “Howl” to the soul-tinged “Here Comes My Man” to affecting, acoustic closer “National Anthem.” Even a few too many tired lyrical tropes (e.g., romanticizing the radio, longing for the unattainable girl) can’t dampen Handwritten’s jubilant energy.

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