The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

by Dan Clay Rating:7 Release Date:2012-07-23

Nick Hornby's sleeve notes to the major label debut of the New Jersey heirs to Springsteen's rock throne spell it out pretty clearly. "It would be stupid to try and tell you that the music you're listening to is like nothing you've ever heard before. If you haven't heard anything like that before, then you're probably listening to the wrong band anyway." And Handwritten is very much a case of 'If it ain't broke...'

Coming off the back of the band's well-received American Slang, Handwritten isn't going to do too much new for a major label who'd prefer the band to play it safe. It merely shows exactly what got them noticed in the first place. And by that reckoning, rocky opener '

' and the air-punching delight of 'Handwritten' don't stray too far from the template but make for a pulsating opening.

That, however, is one of the band's biggest problems. For while it may be their biggest strength - heart-on-your-sleeve stadium rock - it's also a little too repetitive at times. The rather derivative 'Keepsake' and 'Come Together' riffs of 'Too Much Blood' threaten to derail this thundering rock train as Handwritten veers into the all-too-familiar. Thankfully, the sheer breezy pace of '

' bring things to a close.

So, much like a nice pub meal or episode of Lewis, Handwritten will delight fans and those who love knowing exactly what to expect. But as their rock idol reinvents with the times (the folk of We Shall Overcome or the political angst of Wrecking Ball), this band of Springsteen lovers might want to think about a little tinker or two if they really want to stir up some Magic.

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