Change has always been hit and miss for big name bands. Radiohead reinvented themselves by recording the sounds of a hard drive crashing. The Clash made a rambling snoozer of a triple album plagued by wild world music ambitions. No band aims to remake specific records in their catalog, so The Gaslight Anthem had serious decisions to make while crafting their fifth full-length. Unfortunately, they chose to polish up their Jersey punk and came up triumphantly short on Get Hurt.
Get Hurt isn’t necessarily a bad effort, it’s just painfully formulaic rock and roll best suited for the 30 second lead ups to commercials during March Madness. The hooks swell where they’re supposed to, and the glistening guitars are hushed and muted where the heartfelt laments should be heard. It seems singer Brian Fallon desperately wants to pull away from the Springsteen comparisons, and by doing so he may have forgotten why a new generation of rock fans fell in love with his band.
The record opens with a Soundgarden/STP hybird “Stay Vicious”, which sounds tailor made for a Guitar Hero challenge. It rambles from there, tossing out occasional gems like “1,000 Years’, and “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”; blatant testaments to what this band does best. They shine when keeping the tempo and pulse soaring, and crash and burn when mucking it up with the ultra sappy “Red Violins” and the completely forgettable album closing “Have Mercy”.
Take it or leave it, Get Hurt is supposed to be the sound of a band stretching its legs. Too bad it plays more like a band running in place.