It's hard to find quality Rock N' Roll nowadays, but if The Gaslight Anthem proved anything on their sophomore album, it was that it could still be done. Revisiting it again, it's still as classic and good as the day it came out. Mixing punk & rock influenced by Tom Petty & Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem could have been happy in the sound they carved out for themselves. But no, The Gaslight Anthem instead drops most of the punk, and becomes a full on rock band. The results? As Brian Fallon sings at one point, "Who does it better than we do?"
Bring It On
The Diamond Church Street Choir
The Queen of Lower Chelsea
The only thing that's changed for the band really is the music. They still can craft a great song with excellent lyrics, Brian Fallon can still burn out a note like it's nobody's business, and they can still crank out a memorable hook when needed for a song. So for the music, as Brian Fallon, they've moved away from the 59' inspired sound, and moved on along the rock timeline. This time, they've moved closer to their influences. I could honestly see/hear Bruce Springsteen singing half this album. It has his lyrical sense, it's grandiose feel, and his musical sensibilities. But, The Gaslight Anthem doesn't try to copy it, but rather, pay homage to it. The album is also a lot tighter sound-wise. While you had ballad-type songs, punk-type songs, and general rockers on their last album, it sticks mostly to the rockers. The closest the album gets to slowing down is "We Did It When We Were Young," but it's not as much slow, as it is emphasizing the vocals & the lyrics with a more minimalistic approach for most of the song.
Overall, listening to this album over 5 times now, I can safely say it gets better with each listen. Each song is an all-American story set to the beat of a great rock tune. It may be a short album, but it's a solid one. Maybe not as classic as its predecessor, but it's every bit as good, in a different way. One could say that they're trying too hard, but it is working. If anything, American Slang is proof you can still find Salvation by the radio.