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Brian Fallon Crawls Into The Groove On The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt

The Gaslight Anthem
Get Hurt

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Although not quite as jarring as Dylan plugging in or Bob Mould releasing a dance record, The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt marks a rather radical departure from the band’s previous work.

Or does it?

Over the course of several albums, The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman Brian Fallon has proven himself to be one of the best American songwriters around. Sounding like Springsteen if he was raised on the Minutemen and The Replacements instead of Roy Orbison and Van Morrison, Fallon’s winning combination of streetsmart poetry wrapped in big, muscular hooks are one of the most lethal combinations in music today.

Which brings us to Get Hurt.

Everything that makes Fallon great is still there, but this time around instead of cranking out ten infectious rockers about American tragedy, he checks in with a series of vignettes that are more sonically nuanced and textured than anything he’s done before. In the past, Fallon liked to play next to the groove, but on Get Hurt he’s decided to crawl inside of it and then punch his way out. The departure here is that the songs are broader and widen the panorama of Fallon’s narratives. Producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg) has effortlessly drawn Fallon out of his comfortable place by way of electronic instruments and computer technology and brought him somehwere richer, where his songs can breathe and take adventurous detours witout ever compromising their integrity.

“Underneath The Ground” snakes magically along with a dreamlike gait ; “Stray Paper” is a spry rocker buoyed by a ghostly backbeat and “Break Your Heart” seems to borrow its elegant silver scrape from Matthew Ryan.

Elsewhere, “Stay Vicious” sounds like vintage Alice In Chains; “Helter Skeleton” could unite a stadium in song and the title track has all the wounded splendor of Springsteen’s later work.  Meanwhile, “Rollin’ and Tumblin” and “Dark Places” could have shown up on The ’59 Sound or American Slang; the excellent “Mama’s Boy” sounds like Fallon was listening to Hootenanny a lot last year and the album-closing “Have Mercy” is a dreamy shuffle that’s as haunting as it is lovely.