The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten
* * * * (out of four) ROCK
This is rock 'n' roll as we always hoped it could be: brutally honest, naked emotions and primal, cathartic singalong sounds that pour directly from one band's soul into yours. No posing. No sympathy solicited. On the quartet's fourth album, the Springsteen influence still echoes faintly — band and Boss share a Jersey background, a producer (Brendan O'Brien) and a penchant for arena-filling anthems — but here they stand on their own, barroom-tested and with plenty to say. Mostly, it's about love: lost love (first single 45), tormented love, redemptive love, love from a scorned woman's point of view (Here Comes My Man), love that carries you beyond the grave (Biloxi Parish).
And partly it's about the power of music to connect. As Brian Fallon asks on the title track, "What's your favorite song? That's mine, I've been crying to it since I was young. I know there's someone out there feeling just like I feel." We're here, and we do.
>Download: above tracks, plus Keepsake, Too Much Blood, National Anthem