Published Aug 12, 2014Often when us music critic types label an album as a "break-up record," we're reading between the lines — or perhaps grasping (inappropriately) at a singer's personal life. But it doesn't take much scrutiny to tell that Get Hurt, the fifth full-length from New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem, is about broken hearts. Every song sounds shattered, desperate, a soundtrack to picking up the pieces and having to pinch bloody shards of glass out of your hands as you go.
The band has framed Get Hurt as a shift in its Springsteen-meets-Replacements sound, but they're overselling things a tad: only a couple of songs, like the title track, truly feel all that different from their last couple of records (and some changes, such the big grunge-y guitars in "Stay Vicious," really don't work at all). To my ears, the album actually echoes Gaslight's debut, Sink or Swim, both in its melodies and, sadly, its undercooked nature; many of the songs feel like sketches, musically direct but lacking the precision of the band's best work. Still, vocalist Brian Fallon's grizzled take on misery, particularly on anthemic gems like "1000 Years" and "Dark Places," holds the album together as an oft-engaging collection of hurt songs. (Universal)