More than it even knows, this country needs its next great rock band. We live in a complicated age. We’ve got tea parties and bailouts and shutdowns and politicized street howlers of all persuasions shrieking from our thousand-channel satellite descramblers. We have no common chant to anchor our dreams or uphold a cherished myth. We’ve got mixtapes and sequins and nostalgia merchants and every manner of self-conscious polyrhythms, but we’re short on raw fire and romantic longing. Too many curveballs, too few Hail Marys.
Enter The Gaslight Anthem. Could they be The Ones? Hell, their name has the word “anthem” in it. They are unafraid. There is absolutely no fucking sleight-of-hand with this band. They don’t just sound like Springsteen; they flat-out quote his lyrics. They sketch charcoal drawings of hard-luck girls and guys who yearn themselves bloody. They sing about classic cars and sailor tattoos and outlaw cowboy bands. They’re not topical. They’re universal. They awake our inner teenager who retreated in us too quickly.
Their 2008 breakthrough The ’59 Sound was the most refreshing album in years simply by being a set of great rock songs clumsy and modest enough to aim no higher. Their latest, American Slang (out now), polishes the story while staying true to its core. The band slays in concert—all tats, crew-cuts and shouted choruses. They’re the perfect marriage of punk and the bombastic Americana that punk claimed to hate before it fell back in love.
The Gaslight Anthem
may not be the final answer to any bigger question, but they send you out into the night with your heart slamming and your fingers rapping the steering wheel and plenty of gas in the tank.