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New Gaslight Anthem album contains few surprises

By Caleb Slinkard
On June 17, 2010

Gaslight Anthem's "American Slang," the follow-up to their critically acclaimed sophomore offering "The '59 Sound," suffers from comparisons to its predecessor and Bruce Springsteen, whose inspiration the New Jersey quartet exhibits with pride. While it's true that "American Slang" lacks the "stop-and-listen" power of "The '59 Sound," Gaslight's sonic and lyrical changes are improvements on an already memorable sound.

"Slang" is a cleaner album, and slimmer at only 10 tracks, than "Sound," but still possesses all of the Gaslight essentials: a rolling bass line, catchy guitar riffs and sharp drum work wrapped in Brian Fallon's gruff vocals, which are sometimes reminiscent of a more subdued Mike Ness or less vulnerable Conor Oberst.

The music itself rarely slows down, even with the emotional lyrical content that Anthem's songs contain. The entire album has a nostalgic air about it, as if they're singing about the past rather than looking forward to the future. "Don't sing me your songs about the good times," Fallon warns. "Those times are gone and you should just let them go." The entire album reflects this attitude, but it comes off as content and not depressing.

Still, "Slang" has its drawbacks. While the Gaslight Anthem certainly has a refreshing sound, the songs become somewhat formulaic over the course of the album. It's hard to pick out a specific song that would receive significant airplay as a single. That being said, there are certainly some highlights on "Slang." "Bring it On" focuses on Fallon's range and a squealing rock-n-roll guitar, while "Boxer" is the catchiest track on the album, and "Old Haunts" is the most memorable.

Don't expect it to break any new ground, but if you're looking for an album to provide a soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon, you won't have to look any farther than "American Slang."

"American Slang" was released June 14, 2010, by SideOne Dummy Records.

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