Every artist has that album where they switch up their sound. For Paramore it was their self-titled record. For Taking Back Sunday it was New Again. For The Gaslight Anthem it’s Get Hurt.
According to Brian Fallon in his interview with The Huffington Post, the band reached a point where they had to ask themselves what the point of continuing was if they were just going to keep making the same albums over and over again. They returned to the drawing board and studied every band that’s ever changed their sound. The result? Get Hurt.
But the thing about change is that it is what it is: different. People will love it, be alienated by it, or some mixture of the two. It’s not The ’59 Sound but that’s the point. I don’t think it could’ve been even if they wanted it to be: a good portion of this album is about Fallon’s recent divorce. In fact, between Robin Thicke’s Paula, Coldplay’s Ghost Stories, and The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt, 2014 was a year for divorce records. But I don’t think the change is bad. While it’s not their “best” it’s a good album from beginning to end.
Get Hurt is musically and lyrically visceral, covering everything from anger and resentment (“Ain’t that a Shame”, “Rollin and Tumblin”) to bitterness and sadness (“Break Your Heart”, “Have Mercy”). Fallon’s always been a great songwriter but I think he accomplishes a rare feat: catharsis without being so confessional the lyrics loses their artistic value (Kelly Rowland’s “Dirty Laundry, Katy Perry’s “Circle the Drain”, etc.). Fallon has proved time and time again he can write as characters from different eras, but this is him at his most naked and vulnerable. He’s himself and it’s brilliant.
I can’t say I want to write a Get Hurt. I’m okay with never experiencing the kind of pain necessary to pen it. What I can say, however, is that I admire its grit and wish I had the voice to pull it off.
Oh, and that if you should decide to listen to the album, check out the deluxe edition. While “Have Mercy” alone is worth it, the other bonus tracks are like a satisfying epilogue after an already fine book.