The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

If forced to categorize their sound, most would classify the Gaslight Anthem as a punk rock band. This is probably a fair assessment. After all, they did share a bill this past fall with Rise Against and Alkaline Trio. Make no mistake though, The Gaslight Anthem span beyond the stereotypical teenage-centric crowds of pop-punk's reach. With a foundation that is based more in the working-class grit of east coast rock and roll, than in the saccharine sheen of the MTV pop-punk circuit, The Gaslight Anthem sound like a punk rock band playing classic rock songs. The end result plays to my most elementary desires.

With the Gaslight Anthem hailing from New Jersey, it would be ridiculous not to mention the influence that Bruce Springsteen has on The '59 Sound. Lead singer Brian Fallon reportedly cut his teeth only a few blocks from E Street, and this is apparent from his first growl on album opener, "Great Expectations", to his last wail on closer, "The Backseat". The comparisons don't stop at the vocal stylings though. Lyrically, Fallon makes no mistake of his allegiances to the Boss, romanticizing about some of Mr. Springsteen's favorite topics: garages, girls, and growing up. In fact, the similarities move to direct Born in the U.S.A. references on tracks like "High Lonesome" (which pulls lyrics directly from "I'm on Fire") and "Meet Me by the River's Edge" (which name-checks both "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean" within its first ten seconds). The flagrancy of the borrowing somehow makes it less of a sin though, and ultimately contributes to The '59 Sound's cohesion.

The real heroes here though are the hooks, and there are a lot of them. For better or worse, every chorus on The '59 Sound will get stuck in your head. They are melodramatic ("Everybody leaves, so why wouldn't you?"), they are covered in schmaltz ("Did they play your favorite song, one last time?"), they are over the top ("We're gonna wash these sins away, or else we won't come back again"), which is basically three ways of saying that they are fucking great to sing along to ("Maybe I should call me an ambulance").

Plain and simple, The '59 Sound is an album full of unforgettable melodies and hooks, which are laced with nostalgia. With their hybrid version of punk and classic rock, the Gaslight Anthem manages to create a standout summer album in a year (2008) full of them. Musically, it may not be complex. Thematically, it may not be groundbreaking. The '59 Sound will make you sing and dance though. That is what we came to do, right?