CD Review: The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

More eclectic and overall a bit less loud and punchy than its predecessor, American Slang nonetheless pulls off its mellower edge without sacrificing any impact at all, largely thanks to the emotionally compelling execution that is fast becoming the band's trademark. Singer Brian Fallon's heartfelt, Springsteen-esque delivery conveys an almost physical urgency as he spins tales of love, livin' while you can and getting it over on this dull little town, and the rhythm section remains tight and propulsive on songs like the title track, "Stay Lucky," "Orphans" and "The Spirit of Jazz."

It's on pleasant surprises like the jaunty "The Diamond Church Street Choir" and sultry "The Queen of Lower Chelsea," however, that the ghosts of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding haunt the group's American Songbook vibe to astonishing effect, and even something so potentially out-of-place as the surprisingly U2-esque closer "We Did It When We Were Young" comes off as majestic and, more importantly, honest.

As another layer of bombast is peeled away, American Slang further reveals The Gaslight Anthem as more-than-capable composers of timelessly resonant tunes, and perhaps one of those bands rock lovers will still be listening to a decade or more from now.

4.5 stars

's third proper full-length (and second for high-quality California label Sideonedummy) finds the refreshingly un-hip act moving further away from the punky edge that originally endeared it to the fast-rawk set, and closer to fully embracing the R&B and singer-songwriter influences it referenced so successfully on 2008's breakthrough The '59 Sound. And while that may be bad news for fans of full-bore guitar distortion and speedy angst, it's great news for listeners who know that real rock 'n' roll is all about soul.

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