Like Against Me!’s Tom Gabel, Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon is a tattooed punk with an affinity for big classic-rocks hooks and the Boss. Both Gabel and Fallon favor ringing arena-sized anthems about suburban working-class folks looking back on lost dreams and forward to better times. And on their third album, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem pull it all together for one last chance to make it real. “Fortunes came for the richer men,” Fallon sings on the excellent title cut, “while we’re left with gallows, waiting for us liars to come down and hang.” American Slang’s protagonists are beaten, but not broken, literally and metaphorically taking blows: “He found the bandages inside the pen and the stitches on the radio,” Fallon sings about “Boxer”’s antihero, a guy who finds redemption in the ring and in old songs. Throughout, the band sounds epic, piling on huge hooks while Fallon sings like Born to Run-era Springsteen, passionately pushing every word toward salvation. Is Fallon rock & roll’s future? It’s too early to tell, but he sure sounds like it here. —Michael Gallucci (follow me on Twitter @mgallucci)
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