Holy shit, this record is good. I mean, I absolutely loved "Señor and the Queen," but The '59 Sound exceeds the high expectations I'd had for my fellow Jersey boys after picking up that wonderful little EP in May. "Exceeds" may, in fact, be a bit of an understatement. The '59 Sound blows my fucking mind.
Let me see if I can put it this way: while Sink or Swim
sounds a bit like an Against Me! album and "Senor and the Queen" could be confused for a Bruce Springsteen disk, there's no mistaking that The Gaslight Anthem put out The '59 Sound
. While certainly not abandoning their influences, The Gaslight Anthem foregrounds their own singular sound on this record.
Indeed, The '59 Sound is an extremely mature release, somehow both gritty and polished. Although Brian Fallon's soulful rasp of a voice is frequently (and justifiably) compared to that of the Boss, such assessments are not wholly accurate. The vocals, like the rest of the band's instrumentation, owe at least as much of a debt to the scads of less famous roots rock, blues, and soul musicians of the 1950s and 60s one can dig up in the dusty corners of New Brunswick's used record stores as they do to Bruce Springsteen.
Track 1. "Great Expectations." The mournful nostalgia that drives this fast-paced tale of regret somehow weaves melodic guitar-driven punk with mid-sixties era Motown harmony to fashion a hauntingly sublime tune. It sounds a bit like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing Mike Ness's setting of Mrs. Havisham's biography to music.
Track 2. "The '59 Sound." Although the title track is undeniably the album's most obviously radio-friendly song, it doesn't sound forced. The same melancholy-tinged punk energy at the heart of "Great Expectations" hits its crescendo on the second track, setting the tone for most of the album.
Track 3. "Old White Lincoln." Here, the melancholy yields to melody. Backed by the album's best drumming performance, the third song's bouncing bassline, oohs and aahs, and tingling guitars makes you want to pick up your very own Chuck Taylor-shod, tattooed punk rock sweetheart and go for an afternoon drive through Morris County. . .
Track 7. "The Patient Ferris Wheel." On loan from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dicky Barrett helps transform "The Patient Ferris Wheel" from a good tune to an album-defining sing-along.
Track 8. "Casanova, Baby!" Roots rock grit meets melodic perfection.
Sobriquet Grade: 93 (A).