Not fixing something that ain’t broken, New Jersey garage rockers The Gaslight Anthem follow up 2012’s rather successful Handwritten with another steady demonstration of crowd pleasing. On their fifth studio album the band offer a glimpse of a heavier, more mature sound while still maintaining all the usual conventions – hook-driven melodies, power chords and husky vocals – successfully employed since their 2008 debut Sink or Swim.
The addition of a rawer, more abrupt streak to their already robust guitar style is apparent from opening track, and first single release, ‘Stay Vicious’, a thumping grunge tune that also sees frontman Brian Fallon adopting a noticeably scratchier baritone than usual. This change in direction is further utilised on energetic anthems like ‘Stray Paper’, ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’, and ‘Selected Poems’ all notable for their rousing – yet highly analogous – guitar riffs and abrasive vocal style.
In addition to this new-found vitality, the band also exhibit their appreciation of a good pop song, seen through their use of soaring, light-hearted melodies (‘Underneath the Ground’) and sharp, zippy choruses (‘Red Violins’). These firmly established fundamentals almost succeed in carrying the record through, but ultimately Get Hurt is let down by moments of extreme banality. Instantly forgettable rock ballads like ‘Break Your Heart’ and the title track, together with A-typical Americana belters like ‘Aint that a Shame’ and ‘Dark Places’, all play their part in detracting from the band’s burgeoning evolution, culminating in a disappointing conclusion. No doubt their hardcore fan-base will over-look Get Hurt’s hindrances in favour of it’s fist-pumping, anthemic qualities, but it’s hard not to think that The Gaslight Anthem have really missed a trick with this one.