The Gaslight Anthem // History Books // Album Review
There is always a wariness when you hear a band are releasing an album after being away for a long period of time, regardless of how good the band were, people change, musical tastes change and it can end up being a big letdown. Thankfully this is not the case here as The Gaslight Anthem makes a triumphant return after nearly ten years away.
I will admit that I forgot about them over the years as you do when there is no new material but they are always on a playlist and when they come around you tend to go “oh yeah” These guys are pretty good and you go through a cycle again. This gem is packed with great songs and none more so than the opener “Spider Bites” with its crushing opening salvo of drums, guitar and piano is brilliant and when Fallon comes in on vocals it will send a shiver down your spine as you realise what you’ve been missing for the best part of a decade, there is an anthemic feel to this one and it will be guaranteed to get everyone singing along to it, a cracking opening. The title track “History Books” is a typical Gaslight Anthem with Fallon’s raspy vocals leading the track, it’s brim full of great guitar riffs and vocal harmonies, added to a guest spot from Bruce Springsteen and it just pushes it up a notch or two, this is the heart and soul of what these guys do and it’s what makes them so good. “Autumn” has a folksy punk vibe to it with airy verses and a soaring chorus’, the chugging beat combined with Fallon’s dulcet tones are hypnotic, one of my favourite tracks on the album.
The lead single “Positive Charge” pushes the tempo with a thumping drum and bass line driving the track, there is a more punk rock feel to this with some great riffs and a nice little solo, Fallon’s vocals are amazing on this track you get a real sense of someone who enjoys doing what he’s doing, another great track. “Michigan, 1975” is a ballad-style track that sees the band holding back playing in hushed tones as Fallon follows suit, putting in a stunning performance. The guitar-driven “Little Fires” rips along like wildfire, a kicking rhythm from the drums and bass helping to push it along, the killer solo in the middle is another high point, a real toe-tapper. “The Weatherman” slows it down a bit but while it’s slower it has an upbeat feeling to it, the stripped-back accompaniment on this particular track is amazing, a very understated gem. When you hear “Empires” your first thought will be that it is very Dylanesque, sounding like a cross between Bod and The Wallflowers, Jcob’s band, it has a melancholic aura that really hits you in the feels, an amazing track. The heavy tempo, pounding drums and gritty riffs that run through “I Live In The Room Above” bring an element of punk to the track, the guitars are more pronounced on this track with a heavy reverb adding to the punk feel, a great track. The album closes with “A Lifetime Of Preludes”, another easy listener that has elements of country and bluegrass, a fitting way to close an epic album, let’s just hope it’s not ten years before they release another one.