Review: Gaslight Anthem's 'Handwritten' is hardy

Associated Press
This CD cover image released by Mercury/Island Def Jam shows the latest release by The Gaslight Anthem, "Handwritten." (AP Photo/Mercury/Island Def Jam)
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This CD cover image released by Mercury/Island Def Jam shows the latest release by The Gaslight Anthem, …

The Gaslight Anthem, "Handwritten" (Mercury/Island Def Jam)

The Gaslight Anthem has always occupied this unsettling space between the earnestness of Bruce Springsteen's lyricism and the musical passion of harder-edged bands like Jawbox. The former is no surprise, given the quartet's New Jersey Roots and the latter — well, this is a band that bounds back and forth across the line between punk and folk with no apologies.

Nor should it.

On its fourth studio album, the appropriately titled "Handwritten," Gaslight Anthem offers up plenty of material that is rich in texture and layered in its subtexts about love, longing and losing that careens from composed whispers to impassioned pleas.

In a way, the 11 tracks — starting with the sublime "45" — evoke the band's prior recordings of stories blending hope, redemption, memories and regret. But there's a more adult air infusing the 11 songs.

The Gaslight Anthem has fashioned a sturdy major label debut that more than pays homage to its upbringing while, at the same time, shows off a maturity gleaned from so much time playing on the road and a cohesion that is remarkable.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: The splintering and howling title track is like a scornful letter about love and loss yet with a U-turn that transforms it from a clichéd story about couples meeting later in life to something grander and, at its core, hopeful.

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