Album Review: The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

As much as I love The Gaslight Anthem, I can’t quite get over the feeling that they were carefully designed as the ultimate guilty pleasure for guys like me. It’s not that they are bad, but their particular brand of nostalgic longing for a mythical golden age of Americana appeals directly to the tragically romantic part of me that I’d rather not admit exists. Brian Fallon’s tales of dime store Casanovas, broken-hearted dames and small town heartbreakers have always walked a fine line between touching and overwrought while managing to cast aside any trace of irony or cynicism with their heart-on-the-sleeve earnestness, but on ‘Get Hurt’ the band finally lapses into the disappointingly cheesy territory that they have always threatened.

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This is especially disappointing given that their last record, 2012’s ‘Handwritten’, was a stellar return to form after 2010’s lacklustre ‘American Slang’ that plays like the mission statement of a veteran band finally hitting their groove. Where Handwritten rocks, rolls and sways with a soulful  force, ‘Get Hurt’ limps along devoid of any trace of the band’s punk background. Even their oft-noted Springsteen influence is barely present, giving way instead to a late era Pearl Jam vibe complete with an Eddie Vedder croon and tepid mid-tempo plod-rock songs that struggled to hold their interest through their full run time.

It almost feels as if, after expending all their energy writing, recording and touring ‘Handwritten’, the Gaslight Anthem were left exhausted and rather than get to work on new material they decided to bash out a dozen leftover tracks from the ‘American Slang’ and ‘Handwritten’ sessions, package it as a subtle change in direction and call it a day.

[quote]The band finally lapses into the disappointingly cheesy territory that they have always threatened.[/quote]

Where ‘Get Hurt really’ misses the mark though is in its lyrical and thematic content. Although Brian Fallon has always been a little guilty of recycling, up until now his barefaced sincerity and poetic deftness has made for some charmingly heartfelt insight. 5 albums in, though, the same schtick that made TGA mean so much to me when I was 18 is now grating. There are only so many rhymes for “heart”, so many metaphors for doomed romance, so many way to namedrop Sam Cooke and they were used up a long time ago, leaving a set of cloyingly earnest love songs that, after almost a decade of near constant repetition,  is now beginning to feel alarmingly cynical.

[quote]It would be a real shame to go out on an album as uninspired as Get Hurt.   [/quote]

When I draggedgla2 my friend along to watch TGA at Leeds festival a couple years ago after Handwritten came out I was as excited as I’d get all weekend. By about their third song I was left feeling so deflated by their sloppy playing, Fallon’s cracked voice and the uninspired setlist that I apologised for making my friend miss Tribes, promised on my life Polar Bear Club would be way better (and how they were) and left early to catch the end of Iceage.  The feeling I got upon my first listen of Get Hurt  – the reserved anticipation followed by a gradual realisation that, hey, this actually kinda stinks – was an almost exact replay of this Leeds set.

I can only hope this is a temporary slump and not the beginning of the end for one of the defining bands of my late teens, and after such a solid run it would be a real shame to go out on an album as uninspired as Get Hurt, but unless they drastically change things up soon I can’t forsee there being much life left in The Gaslight Anthem.

For completists and mega-fans only, everyone else should get ‘Handwritten’ and ‘The ’59 Sound’ instead.



Bradley Finney 

5 Comments on this post.
  • Graham
    27 August 2014 at 20:15
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    Sorry, but your comments are b******s – no offence, but amateur critics do my head in – if you like it, listen, if you don’t, then don’t – simples !!! Please don’t waste your breath an my time – if u have something constructive to say, find 4 friends, form a band, write some music ………………………..

    • Erd
      28 August 2014 at 23:22
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      Well Bradley, I hate to say it but uhhh you are a clown. Although I do respect your opinion…there is no “right” answer here. And not trying to be mean…everyone has their taste in music but the fact that you have liked their past stuff and you are putting this album down like you have really grinds my gears bro. What exactly were you hoping for on this album? From the get-go they told you it was going to be completely different and critics would hate it. Oh and it also has a giant upside down heart on the cover that looks like a valentines day card…did you think it would sound like sink or swim? It was meant to be this way and they nailed it. I don’t want another Sink or Swim/59 Sound/American Slang/Handwritten – they already crushed those albums and the problem with critics is they always compare previous albums. Bad move my man…listen to Fallon when he talks about comparing previous albums and you will understand. Thankfully this not a replica of any of their previous works but it is still TGA and that is absolutely amazing that they can do that (and they picked the dude who produced 1979 and arctic monkeys which is a solid choice cause they probably completely disagreed the whole time which makes the album what it is). This was above and beyond what I had hoped. Best band of my time…keep it up boys.

  • Frank
    29 August 2014 at 03:41
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    Wow. An awful lot of words to say nothing but “I don’t Ike it”. No comments on any particular song or particular lyrics. Not really a review of the album. Just a bunch of whining about Me, Me, Me. Hope you’re not planning a career in journalism.

  • Bradley Finney
    1 September 2014 at 20:35
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    Hi guys, thanks for the feedback but no, I don’t have any plans to become a professional music journalist.

    I also have very limited clowning experience so I feel it would be disingenuous to describe myself as such.

    In all sincerity though if you would like to have an earnest, civil discussion about music and Get Hurt/Gaslight in particular feel free to email me at

  • Graham
    10 September 2014 at 18:01
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    Hi Bradley – no offence – I do get quite deffensive 🙂 an I also love GA, so think they’re just moving on like they need to. I think ERD nailed it pretty well, an probably more constructively than I, so sorry – we’re all entitled to our opinions 🙂

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