When the needle drops on The Gaslight Anthem’s sophomore record, The ‘59 Sound, it’s not actually a needle. The soft hisses and crackles belong to a prerecorded sound effect, the inclusion of which would be entirely unnecessary if the band trusted you to listen on glorious, 180-gram vinyl. But the fact is that it’s 2008, you probably bought this on CD or mp3, and the band’s only way to be authentic is to be a little contrived.
Fast-forward six years and three records, and the same paradox applies. On 2010’s American Slang and 2012’s Handwritten, frontman Brian Fallon and his bandmates held fast to their fantasies about late-night diners and girls named Mary or Maria, creating a self-contained mythology of an America more real than the one we’ve got. As the tropes became more common, the band even risked unintentional comedy, with some critics in awe of how many times Fallon could drop the word “radio” on a single album.
But all of that is part and parcel of what makes The Gaslight Anthem great. They wear their influences on their sleeves, yet they refuse to hide behind those influences. They name-drop Charles Dickens, English author, and Andy Diamond, New Jersey punk promoter, and don’t skip a beat in the interim. The band’s latest effort, Get Hurt, marks their first significant foray into a new sound, so we’re revisiting the rest of their catalog to find the 10 best songs of their career so far.