The Gaslight Anthem Live for Heartbreak

The Gaslight Anthem

Mercury; 2012

Brian Fallon is the sort of earnest, emotionally honest artist who says things with such sincerity that it almost feels like too much. Perhaps being The Gaslight Anthem’s singer and primary songwriter makes him believe all the more in idyllic love and allows his heart to be battered every time he takes a chance. Taking a cue from Springsteen, Fallon makes the ordinary seem epic. “45″ is the hard-charging opening song, which is reminiscent ofTim-era Replacements. And here the strengths/frustrations with Fallon and the band are one and the same. “And I dance with your ghost/Oh, but that ain’t the way… /I can’t move on and I can’t stay the same” — Fallon seems stuck, unable to move past his enormous emotional loss.

And then on the next track, “Handwritten,” we’re privy to this: “I know there’s someone out there feeling just how I feel/I know they’re waiting up, I know they’re waiting to heal.” It’s like he’s addicted to being heartbroken and tormented. Personally, I’m ready to hear Fallon say something else. There’s hot and cold running nostalgia for good times before loss and loneliness were Fallon’s only companions, and some present-tense tales of anything would be a big step forward. The band are more than capable and adjust themselves nimbly to the shifts in compositions easily, whether they’re full-blown rockers or tender ballads. The acoustic “National Anthem” closes out the album; it’s a low-key, muted number that gives him time to contemplate the big questions in life. “So take what you need now, honey/And do what you like/Don’t worry about me, mama, I’m all right,” he sings, as though these were the most important words in the world. And at least to Fallon, on his endless quest for redemption and true, enduring love, perhaps they are

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