I had forgotten Michael Corleone's line from The Godfather Part III, until trying to describe my feelings about Brian Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem.

The Gaslight Anthem's 2008 album The '59 Sound was my first exposure to the band. My wife and I heard them at House Of Blues when they toured behind the record. Their fantastic stage show led me to listen to their previous work, as most might do when discovering a band's music. While their 2007 record Sink Or Swim is uneven, it has what turned out to be my favorite song of theirs, a tribute to Joe Strummer titled "I'da Called You Woody, Joe." This may be because my favorite band is the Clash. Either way, the song drew me in.

2010's American Slang didn't engage me as much as its predecessor, but it was still an excellent album. In fact, if I were to make a ten-song Gaslight Anthem playlist, I'd include "Bring It On" and "The Diamond Church Street Choir," from this record. So far, I'm still in.

Then came 2012's Handwritten...

Every July my family vacations in Maine. Gaslight Anthem released this album while I was there, and I put a calendar reminder in my phone to listen to the album the day it was released. I struggled to get through the entire album. I assumed I'd like it more after a second listen. Nope, it was still disappointing. I tried again a few days later with the same resulting feeling. Fallon had released what I had found to be an uninspiring album with his side project, the Horrible Crowes, in 2011, so I felt that Handwritten might be a moment of redemption. I was giving him a mulligan, and though I wasn't out yet, I was officially concerned.

In July 2014, some friends and I saw the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at Boston's City Hall Plaza for singer Dicky Barrett's 50th birthday celebration. The opener that day was The Gaslight Anthem, as they were presumably returning Barrett's favor for guesting on "The Patient Ferris Wheel" from The '59 Sound. The cavernous City Hall Plaza is not an ideal concert venue, which compounded the atrocity of hearing a band that was clearly just going through the motions. In my twenty-odd years of concert-going, I hadn't seen an audience so indifferent towards what they were hearing. A few weeks later, The Gaslight Anthem released their fifth album, Get Hurt. I made it through three dull and mediocre tracks before declaring that I was out. I was done with the band. It didn't surprise me that the band announced an "indefinite hiatus" a year later.

As we fast forward to March 2016, Brian Fallon recently released his first solo album, Painkillers. I purposefully avoided it until I got a text from Rick, a buddy of mine. He wrote, "The new Brian Fallon record is surprisingly pretty good." Rick and I share a the same feelings about Fallon and the Gaslight Anthem, so I decided to give the record a listen. Lo and behold, he was right. The album loses steam towards the end, but it is easily Brian Fallon's best work since American Slang. His writing seems to be rejuvenated, and the lead single, "Smoke," is undeniably catchy and an early standout. Maybe I'm back in.

Hearing "Smoke," I almost regretted missing Fallon's show in Boston a few weeks ago. That was until I read some reviews (describing a rushed set and no encores) and saw that nearly half of his set list comprised Horrible Crowes' songs. Maybe I didn't regret it. Maybe I'm not back in. My love/hate relationship with Brian Fallon and the Gaslight Anthem continues...