Bruce Springsteen Sets Record with Good Album

The Boss is back with his 17th studio album Wrecking Ball. Featuring 11 songs, it is the first album released since the passing of seminal Springsteen collaborator and saxophonist Clarence Clemons, but he is still featured on two songs: “Wrecking Ball” “The Land of Hopes and Dreams.” These songs were recorded in 2009 and 1999 respectively, and Clemons’ sax solos help to create the classic Bruce sound on an album where he is much more experimental than he has been on past albums. From “Rocky Ground” which features a few rapped verses (not by Springsteen, but by Michelle Moore who is featured on the album) to the opening track and lead single “We Take Care of Our Own” which uses a diverse arrangement including several string tracks. Such experimentations feel somewhat forced and at times seem as a distraction from tracks that seem relatively uninspired compared to what Springsteen fans are used to.

This apparently presents no problems to his fans as Wrecking Ball hit number 1 upon its release making Springsteen one of only two male rock artists to have 10 number 1 albums (the other being none other than Elvis Presely). On Wrecking Ball we hear much of what makes Springsteen, but not in the breadth or intensity of his classic albums that make him the icon that he is. Though persistently earnest, tracks like “Easy Money” and “Jack of All Trades” come up short, feeling blunt and somewhat hackneyed. The messages in the song lack the subtlety and pointedness of previous efforts, due to generalized, in-your-face lyrics. Though not bad songs, Springsteen fails to reach the bar he’s set for himself (which, in his defense, is quite a high bar).

That being said, there are good songs on the album. The opening track, while certainly not conventional Bruce, is quite catchy. The booming percussion and string arrangement actually brings to mind Arcade Fire, who are well-known admirers of the Boss. “The Land of Hope and Dreams,” definitely brings back some classic sounds and even at nearly seven minutes (which include TWO Clemons solos) doesn’t feel long. The album is never unpleasant, but it just isn’t going to give you the goosebumps you might have felt when hearing “Jungleland” or “My Hometown” for the first time.

Rating: W – P 1/2

Key Tracks: “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “Rocky Ground”

RIYL: Arcade Fire and Gaslight Anthem

Check Out: “We Take Care of Our Own

About Donald Placek

Right now I'm a student majoring in Industrial Engineering, but I've always majored in loving music. I'm a huge fan of vinyl and am always looking to expand my record collection. My top three things (yep, things) would be good sushi, 80s/90s indie rock, and absurd comedy, in no particular order. If you like Guided by Voices or Tim and Eric we're bound to get along smashingly.

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