The Gaslight Anthem impresses, but doesn’t amaze, on American Slang

After the release of The ’59 Sound a few years ago, The Gaslight Anthem unexpectedly jumped up the ranks of indie stardom. Suddenly, their New Jersey, Springsteen-inspired rock was the subject of as many conversations as The Hold Steady.

So, then, the follow-up.

American Slang is not as good as the band’s previous effort, but it shows that not only is The Gaslight Anthem able to consistently churn out catchy, interesting sing-a-longs, it’s able to take slight stylistic jumps and pull them off. The title track, which starts off the album, isn’t exactly the epitome of that — it’s a catchy, mid-tempo rocker full of the bells (literally) and whistles we’ve come to expect. “Stay Lucky” keeps up the quality in the second slot, even if the chorus is weirdly similar to “Meet Me By the River’s Edge,” at least in my opinion.

“Boxer” is where the band lurches for something different — a marriage of their harder-nosed rock with catchier pop — but it doesn’t quite work. The strange vocal intro detracts from what would have otherwise been a decent song.

And otherwise, besides the aforementioned tracks and wonderful standouts like “Orphans” and “The Queen of Lower Chelsea,” it’s a lot of the same. One guitar plays muted power chords, and the other highly pitched riffs. They often fit together, but it becomes very predictable a few songs in. The album is solid, and it’s a nice successor to the band’s breakout effort, but in the wake of The ’59 Sound, you sort of wish The Gaslight Anthem could have come up with something better than a CD with just 4 or 5 standouts.

The Gaslight Anthem – “American Slang” [MP3]

The Gaslight Anthem – “Orphans” [MP3]

Purchase American Slang here.

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