The Gaslight Anthem returned to the studio after nine years to make the beautiful and melodic upcoming album, History Books.
Anyone who is a fan of the previous five albums of The Gaslight Anthem may say this album is like returning home from a long journey. History Book hits many familiar feelings. Anyone familiar with their previous works, Sink or Swim, The ’59 Sound, American Slang, Handwritten, and Get Hurt, will enjoy the nostalgia in some of the songs.
The New Jersey-based band is made up of Brian Fallon, Benny Horowitz, Alex Levine, and Alex Rosamilia. For History Books, they brought in a slew of talented guest artists, including Ian Perkins, Bryan Haring, Kori Garner, Bruce Springsteen, Stefan Babcock, Thomas Bartlett, and Peter Katis. The band is known for being well-rounded and internationally adored. This stacked lineup certainly will not hurt their notoriety.
The album opens with “Spider Bites,” which seems to be about the struggles of relationships as we age. The song has a very rock ‘n’ roll feel as it starts and quickly goes into that familiar sound mentioned above. The song sets the album off right with a soft melody and catchy lyrics. The next song, “History Books,” is one of the released singles and features fellow New Jersey-native, Bruce Springsteen. It goes into beautiful and rhythmic sounds. The theme of the song appears to be about how time passes quickly and how memories linger.
The third song, “Autumn,” has a slower folk sound that is very easy to sing along to. It triggers thoughts of being sure to hold on to little moments in life as they happen because someday they may become precious memories. “Positive Charge” starts with a much faster tempo than the previous songs, with more predominant guitars. This is a more uplifting song, and with lyrics like “feelin’ good to be alive,” it shows that it can be good to see a change after being down.
They found inspiration from the 1993 book, The Virgin Suicides, based in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, for the song “Michigan, 1975.” The book was later adapted into a movie. Both the book and the movie have a very somber story, and the song portrays that feeling very well. The sixth song, “Little Fires,” changes the mood by coming out strong with an empowering song. This song has some sounds to it that are reminiscent of their third album, American Slang. It seems to be about letting go of things or people that cause more harm than good and does so in a way that makes it feel good.
“The Weatherman” is up next. This is simply a beautiful song that is set a lot slower. Don’t let the slower feeling fool you, though; it is almost a spiritual song that invokes a lot of emotion. The eighth song has some classic ’80s sounds mixed with some classic The Gaslight Anthem sounds. This song also sounds a bit spiritual. Lyrically, it expresses learning the hard way just how ruthless people can be.
The ninth song, “I Live In The Room Above Her,” has more of their older punk-rock sound than the previous songs on this album. There is a steady tempo with very pronounced drums and more raw guitar sounds in this song. There is a longing story within the four-minute song. To close out the album, they end with “A Lifetime of Preludes.” This song has a soft sound that perfectly accompanies lyrics that invoke sad but beautiful memories that hurt but also make your heart happy.
This album is an amazing mix of a familiar yet more grown-up version of The Gaslight Anthem. Make sure to listen to each song a few times. The songs grow deeper with each listen. As the songs played, it was easy to envision them being performed live, and they will surely be at least as amazing as the guys head out on tour with four New Jersey dates in October for the release, two dates in the US in December, followed by a Europe tour in March 2024. Make sure to go support the band!
History Books is released on October 27th.