THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM play the Sound Academy September 19. See lilsting. Rating: NNN
New Jersey's the Gaslight Anthem have strayed from their tried-and-true formula on their fifth full-length. Instead of cranking out rousing Springsteenesque rockers (both their calling card and downfall), the band looks to Pearl Jam for inspiration.
Frontman Brian Fallon has made no secret of the strong influence PJ's polarizing 1996 album No Code had on him. That manifests itself here in drawn-out, punk rock tracks that, while crisply produced, lack immediacy. Underneath The Ground, a meandering slice of 90s rock, best exemplifies this approach: instead of honouring the blue-collar American dream, Fallon flaunts his songwriting chops while questioning his own mortality.
A band that has always worn its heart on its sleeve finally manages to suggest an element of mystery. But even the catchiest tracks, like Selected Poems, with its slow-building intro featuring Fallon crooning over quiet, simplified guitars and drums, don't pack the hooky punch of their last effort, 2012's Handwritten.
Top track: Helter Skeleton