Handwritten

  • Record Label: Mercury
  • Release Date: Jul 24, 2012
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
Buy On
  1. As listeners, as fans of music, we've already hit the lottery here.
  2. Jul 23, 2012
    90
    The lyrics are a little more personal, the band a little more developed - it seems that this is the start of a new and exciting chapter for The Gaslight Anthem.
  3. Jul 10, 2012
    90
    The criticisms are minor--a couple of tracks slide back into familiar Americana, but even then there's no sense of the band coasting.
  4. Alternative Press
    Jul 10, 2012
    90
    Thanks to the expert production of Brendan O'Brien, the record sounds goddamn phenomenal. [Aug 2012, p.83]
  5. Jul 24, 2012
    83
    On Handwritten, his lyrics have finally settled into a perfect spot between craft and catharsis. And the music isn't far behind.
  6. 83
    Their album is everything its title suggests: old-school, DIY, and so heartfelt, its emotions might as well be tattooed on its knuckles.
  7. Kerrang!
    Aug 13, 2012
    80
    Handwritten is The Gaslight Anthem's finest and most authoritative album. [28 Jul 2012, p.52]
  8. Jul 30, 2012
    80
    It doesn't quite spike with the sharp edges of old, but the passion is in a more intelligent place, and it's a place worth returning to with at least the same frequency as those hospital walls.
  9. 80
    The result is a weighty collection of tunes that toughens up the band's predilection of a softly rendered, Cure-indebted jangle and nudges the harder edges of Green Day's stadium punk.
  10. Jul 25, 2012
    80
    As a whole Handwritten has all of the heart-on-rolled-up-sleeve passion that makes the Gaslight Anthem a band that is so easy to love and identify with.
  11. Jul 24, 2012
    80
    Handwritten may not break any new ground for the band, but it's easily their strongest release yet.
  12. 80
    Not only is Handwritten The Gaslight Anthem's best album, but it's also one of the best albums of 2012.
  13. Jul 24, 2012
    78
    Between the middle-of-the-metronome songs ("Keepsake"), mild bridges ("Handwritten") and ballads ("Mae" and "National Anthem"), the most riff-heavy, driving songs on Handwritten push the album from a good one to a great one.
  14. Jul 17, 2012
    75
    With one foot rooted in the past, the band is yet pushing forward, with an album that promises longevity and, maybe, greatness.
  15. Jul 25, 2012
    70
    The tunes are a jumble of fidelity betrayed and fidelity pledged, with tough-sounding, country-tinged, blues-infused gutter rock providing a spine.
  16. Magnet
    Jul 24, 2012
    70
    Loud and big--stadium big, major-label big--and although it has soft patches, much of it hurtles forward with welcomed urgency. [No.89, p.58]
  17. Jul 24, 2012
    70
    The steady driving "Mulholland Drive" and the Roy Orbison-worthy "Here Comes My Man" are among the band's best and could have easily come off their breakthrough 2008 release The '59 Sound.
  18. Jul 19, 2012
    70
    Handwritten is Gaslight's biggest-sounding, most straightforward album. The hints of Motown and dub are gone, but superproducer Brendan O'Brien supplies bite and gleam.
  19. Uncut
    Jul 10, 2012
    70
    For all the fine furies collected on Handwritten, the most memorable moments are those on which The Gaslight Anthem shift to lower gears. [Aug 2012, p.66]
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Nov 5, 2015
    10
    The Gaslight Anthem have always been great at expressing themselves and getting to the bones of the nature of their music, utilizing forcefulThe Gaslight Anthem have always been great at expressing themselves and getting to the bones of the nature of their music, utilizing forceful guitar, heavy drums, and soulful vocals from frontman Brian Fallon. On their debut, "Sink or Swim", the band dips one footing in raw punk rock, while keeping another solely in the waters of Americana a la Tom Petty and, yes, Springsteen.

    Then came "The '59 Sound". This record improved on almost every front from its predecessor: it was more melodic, the songs contained more meaningful and personal lyrics, and it switched the genre up from "plain punk rock with a few acoustic songs" to hints of Soul, classic rock, and a streetwise shuffle ("Cassanova, Baby!").

    "American Slang" refined and brought the band's sound into the new millenium, marking the first Gaslight Anthem record to feel truly like a cohesive whole that sought to make one statement. Dabs of Motown ("The Diamond Church Street Choir") and soul ("The Queen of Lower Chelsea"), intermixed with the band's usual offering of Heart-On-Your-Tongue punk rock make up the album, topped off with the best closer the band has ever done, "We Did It When We Were Young."

    Throughout all these records, they have shown the true ability and mental capacity to capture what it is that makes music like this so great: spirit, heart, and driving chords. They've come so close to capturing true magic in the studio.

    But this record.

    This record is the culmination of everything they've tried to do, and producer Brendan O' Brien clearly sought to understand just what it is that makes this band tick before stepping into the recording booth. From the opening track, "45", the listener knows that he or she is in for a tour-de-force of emotion. Brian has never sounded better than on this track.

    Throughout hints of country blues on songs like "Keepsake" and "Biloxi Parish", to straight-up punk snippets like "Howl" and "Desire", the album keeps the listener's attention in place, and "Mae" make them cry, too. (I'm not apologizing for that.)

    The true highlight of the record, though, comes in the form of "Here Comes My Man". The opening guitars complement and work with each other so well, you might think they were destined to be together. The passion in Brian's vocals, paired with the melody and wide-open chorus provided by Alex Rosamalia and Brian, make a track so brilliant, so tear-glisteningly, so heart-breakingly beautiful, I would venture to call it one of the absolute best songs I, personally, have ever heard.

    Please. If you like rock n' roll, emotion, punk rock, or, hell, music in general, give this record a spin. It may be one of the best things you do this, or any, year.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 5, 2014
    8
    New Jersey's Springsteen worshippers produce a solid if slightly unadventurous rock album. As you listen through the record, it's clear thatNew Jersey's Springsteen worshippers produce a solid if slightly unadventurous rock album. As you listen through the record, it's clear that plenty of time went into the writing and structuring of the songs. The production of the record is well suited to the sound of the band and the band themselves do a good job when delivering the material. For me, the album's two strongest songs are found at the beginning and end of the record in "45" and "National Anthem", with "Too Much Blood" providing another highlight in the centre of the record. For the rest of the album the band are consistently good without ever getting the creative juices fully going. I like the record but am a little confused by it I'm not sure if the production makes the band sound better than they actually are. They sound the part and you get the feeling that these guys do have a really great record in them but on repeated listens to this it lacks a little substance. Still enjoyable though. Full Review »
  3. Sep 17, 2013
    7
    The Gaslight Anthem's weakest album to date still delivers some really awesome tracks with a high repeatability. It's not their best, butThe Gaslight Anthem's weakest album to date still delivers some really awesome tracks with a high repeatability. It's not their best, but it'll certainly do for now. Full Review »