After the first 30 seconds of the first listen, my immediate reaction was “what the hell is going on with the production here?!?!” I know that they were purposely producing it to sound live and to have a really strong Springsteen sound. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by Springsteen, he’s an amazing artist. However, it’s one thing to be influenced by him and another to try and be him. I really feel that the production on this album is a bit too Springsteeny. It really does sound like they’re trying to be him instead of just sounding a bit like him.
The songwriting on the album is great though. The songs are really good and they sound exactly like where this band should be and needs to be right now. Even though there isn’t a lot of differentiation between many of them, they’re catchy. And there is some obvious some growth over Sink Or Swim in them, but the songs still keep a very Gaslight Anthem sound.
I love all of the references to other bands in the lyrics. Counting Crows, The Boss (obviously), Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Miles Davis. It’s kind of an explicit way to define who their influences are and as a listener it’s really awesome when you catch one of them and you’re like “wow, that’s such a random reference. I never would have expected that.”
I also love the consistency of the lyrics over the past couple albums and how some seem to reference others. I really like the whole “Maria” thing too. I’m glad that they keep doing that. I always wondered if every time he uses the name Maria, he’s talking about the same girl. But with the the lyric “call every girl we ever meet Maria” on the Senor And The Queen EP, I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s not always the same girl.
Despite the production, I really love this album. I loved the way the vocals sounded on Sink or Swim and I wish they sounded the same on The ’59 Sound, but other than that, I think this is a pretty solid follow-up. Any fan should be able to dig this.