Bruce Springsteen
Wrecking Ball


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
March 6th, 2012 | 106 replies | 16,810 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Hold tight to your anger, don't fall to your fears"

Bruce Springsteen is 62. That probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that he’s been in the music industry for a good forty years, but for the majority of Wrecking Ball it's a fact which beggars belief. Channelling the gulf between American dream and American reality as vivaciously as ever, The Boss appears to have reached a comfort zone in his longstanding existence whereby he’s well over his pre-millennium dodgy spell yet isn’t expected to touch the heights that he reached during his classic period. Such stability has done little to quell the internal fire though, and as such this seventeenth studio LP finds him addressing his numerous gripes with the same earnest conviction that’s made him an icon not just in the USA but the world over.

Upon hearing opening track and lead single ‘We Take Care Of Our Own,’ you’d be forgiven for assuming that this is an archetypal Springsteen record. Shamelessly anthemic, lyrically scathing and completely unmistakable, it uses the same kind of patriotic disguise which characterised ‘Born In The USA,’ and the similarities don’t end there. Its utter predictability does, however, prove a false dawn, because although Wrecking Ball sticks diligently to what its maker does best, it also makes considerable strides to establish itself as a modern entity. By far the most obvious example of such is ‘Rocky Ground,’ which utilises hip hop rhythms as well as a guest verse from Michelle Moore, which fits staggeringly well within the established template. It’s very much the oddball on a record which otherwise tends to find Springsteen adopting his usual strut, but the gamble taken in its inclusion shouldn’t be underestimated, and thankfully it’s one which pays instant dividends.

It's the songs and not the sound which make this record such a runaway success, though, as there are some absolute crackers among the eleven here. After a rock solid opening quartet, the irresistible Irish folk stomp of ‘Death To My Hometown’ marks the point at which the album truly kicks into gear, and in most cases it would prove a stone wall highlight. The title track, however, reaches even loftier peaks, utilising the life-affirming euphoria card that Springsteen has always played so well, while the aforementioned ‘Rocky Ground’ has been dubbed “inspirational” by the television advert here in the UK, and in all honesty it’s difficult not to agree. At a risk of falling into hyperbolic stereotypes, these are genuinely some of the finest songs that he’s written in decades, with ‘Wrecking Ball’ in particular comparable to the very best in his entire back catalogue.

Even that, however, is ultimately usurped by penultimate track ‘Land Of Hopes And Dreams,’ a number which has been doing the rounds since 1999 but takes on a whole new dimension here given recent events. After four minutes of stylish progression, the song reaches its crescendo in the shape of a glorious sax solo from the since deceased Clarence Clemons, in what can only be described as “one of those moments.” The last contribution that he ever made to record, it’s a passage which displays not only his extraordinary talent but also how retrospect can affect the way in which we perceive music as a whole, and acts as a fitting epitaph to a man whose significance in shaping Springsteen’s sound simply cannot be overestimated.

It might not represent the finest individual moment on offer here, but the sultry sentimentalism nevertheless renders it the defining moment on what is arguably the strongest Springsteen record in many a year. Expectations placed upon him have undoubtedly been curbed with age, but he has undergone something of a renaissance since the turn of the century, and Wrecking Ball is undoubtedly an outcome of that recouped confidence. Moreover, it’s a record which can be embraced by Springsteen fans of any generation, and despite his status as an elder statesman within the music industry it’s a long, long time since he’s sounded this angry, motivated or indeed relevant.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also posted here http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Steaming here http://brucespringsteen.net/

Really enjoying this, as you can probably tell. Feedback appreciated!

Gyromania
March 6th 2012



15175 Comments


Great review, Ali!

I cannot get into Springsteen for the life of me though =/

NightProwler
March 6th 2012



6309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album! Will read the review when I get off work

Digging: Jack White - Lazaretto

porch
March 6th 2012



8442 Comments


the corny accents he adopts on a few of these songs are so terrible, holy shit

coding error in summary

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's his best since The Rising and it's a really good album, but I'm still a bit dissapointed since this could've been better. Hip-hop, for real? :-/

Great review, Ali!

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

Gyromania
March 6th 2012



15175 Comments


With porch on this one. I was just listening to this and it's really grating at points

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That's just what he does. You get used to it; at least I did.

henryChinaski
March 6th 2012



2681 Comments


Currently listening to this. I'm kinda new to Springsteen. I think the only song i really know from him is 'Born in the USA' haha. Is this a good album to start?

Digging: How to Dress Well - What Is This Heart?

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Not really :p
I mean it's good and all, but you need the classics like Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Nebraska.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012



15727 Comments


what about me and my blue collar?

Digging: A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



1106 Comments


Never listened to Springsteen. As a Brit he always seemed too American-ised to relate to on the surface, but if i were to give him a try which album would be best?? Kinda intrigued after the high scores i've been seeing for this album.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

You really can't go wrong with any of his album's up 'till Born in the USA, but Born To Run and Darkness on the Edge Of Town are my favs, by far.

wabbit
March 6th 2012



6977 Comments


Born to Run



the title track is probably going to be the soty but the rest is kinda meh.

BigHans
March 6th 2012



26455 Comments


Great review man. Title track is the best Springsteen song in probably 20 years.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys

Tom, I think you'd be best off starting with Born To Run, it's probably his best imo. I began with Born In The USA which also worked great - it's shamelessly commercial and cheesy as hell in places, but by god it's got some tunes. Like clercqie said, though, you can't really go wrong with any of his classic period stuff.

I never had a problem relating to him either. Obviously he's distinctly American but a lot of the issues that he addresses reach far further than that.

BigHans
March 6th 2012



26455 Comments


Born to Run is the only place to start.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



6323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I never had a problem relating to him either. Obviously he's distinctly American but a lot of the issues that he addresses reach far further than that.

And even then, the superb lyricism makes listening to his stuff like enjoying a good dramatic movie. So people who can't relate to it should still find something to enjoy.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012



1106 Comments


Yeah that's why i said the surface, cos im sure like you guys said, once you get past that there's some universally relatable stuff he sings about. Alright guys thanks, have to get it on sometime.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 6th 2012



10585 Comments


You are really good Ali, seriously. Fantastic read. i have been meaning to check this out ever since it leaked but I simply haven't.


Oh an what's a Brit doin' reviewin' this?? 'MERICA!

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

BigHans
March 6th 2012



26455 Comments


I would have reviewed this but I would have said the same thing Ive said in every Hold Steady, Springsteen, Replacements, and Gaslight Anthem review I've done.



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