Have you interacted with any hardcore Springsteen fans who also like Gaslight Anthem? It's bizarre in some cases. "I don't understand Handwritten. I mean, there's no Springsteen in it! Why would they alienate their core fan base like that?!" That's definitely a generalization, and a bit of an exaggeration but I've heard something along those lines from a few people.
I actually read somebody on a message board who basically dissected the lyrics to "Howl" in such a manner that nearly every line was a reference to a Bruce Springsteen lyric. I'm not a Springsteen guy, so I don't know how directly it all compares but I shrugged at the comparisons and said, "So uh, they both mention sitting on the hood of a car. That seems like a common experience more than a reference to another lyric." I can see why they'd want to avoid those comparisons if that's how exaggerated they've become.
That being said, I don't know that they're "running from" the comparisons so much as just...Moving on? Stretching their wings? Shrug.
I don't know, my brother and I are huge, huge Springsteen fans, and both of us love Handwritten
more than anything else Gaslight has done. There's a ton of Springsteen in there still ("Here Comes My Man," "National Anthem," etc.), but its more subtle influences than overt references this time around.
I think them not covering Bruce, either on tour, on any of these EPs, or in the bonus tracks to Handwritten
says something. Maybe they are trying to move on from that influence: it certainly seemed like it on American Slang
. But I think they came back to that kind of sound with this record, which is I guess why I'm confused. Not such a bad thing, but given the choice between seeing them going full Springsteen during their concert encore and suffering through their cover of "Sliver," the choice is an easy one.