By Alex Ward
It seemed inevitable from the first moment we heard them that The Gaslight Anthem were to be the next big rock band out there. Their previous records Sink or Swim, The 59 Sound and American Slang were all critically acclaimed. However, when Brian Fallon, the lead singer of the group, announced the release of a new album he made sure people knew the group were looking for a new sound. From the moment you press play you can even hear this when Fallon sings ‘Turn the record over, I’ll see you on the flip side’, showing exactly that the band is trying to turn over a new leaf.
One major aspect of the album is the emotion of the lyrics. Fallon and the group, in my opinion, write great lyrics on heartbreak, being prepared for life, dealing with past lovers and loss itself. You can really hear it in songs such as the title song ‘Handwritten’, ‘Mulholland Drive’, and ‘Mae’, while ‘Too Much Blood’ (my favourite track) is very similar to songs on Red Hot Chilli Peppers By The Way album. But for the die hard Gaslight Anthem fan, the sound hasn’t changed totally from that of previous records.
As much as Fallon talks about moving in a new direction, the sound itself has continued to take a lot of influences from American culture and bands. The sound itself resembles a lot of Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. What I mean by this taking in influences from America is demonstrated on the album closer ‘National Anthem’ – a beautiful acoustic record, which uses a lot of American icons and politics, where Fallon sings of ‘I will never forget you my American love’. Handwritten proves and cements the group’s place in the rock establishment.