THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM: The ’59 Sound [Side One Dummy]

On The ’59 Sound, schoolboys and young girls named Matilda, Sally and Bobby Jean die on a Saturday night, but not before they meet by the river’s edge, stand in the pounding rain and hang out in the backseat. From the evidence presented, we can also reasonably conclude that tramps like these, baby, they were born to run. Which is to say, if some bands wear their influences on their sleeves, the Gaslight Anthem broadcasts its source material with a bullhorn and neon lights. Heightening the effect, frontman Brian Fallon favors Bruce Springsteen’s everyman bellow, pushed way too high in the mix, instead of, say, fellow Jersey boy Pete Yorn’s embrace of the Boss’ more subtle, clenched-teeth delivery. Fatigue ensues from the relentless stream of common-man clichés, delivered in the most vocally bombastic way possible. Which makes the carefree “Casanova, Baby!” such a pleasure; the Gaslight Anthem finally stops playing to the stadium, resulting in a positively joyous, catchy rock ’n’ roll song. “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” is also a gem, with Fallon varying his vocal delivery, giving a shout-out to “Tom Petty songs” and allowing an insistent electric guitar to share the spotlight. During these moments, The ’59 Sound is mercifully elevated from a covers night at the Stone Pony. []

—Matt Ryan