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Don't set your hopes too high on Springsteen's 'High Hopes'

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 01:01


Bruce Springsteen has been recording music for more than 40 years. His 1975 album “Born to Run” is listed in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. He's appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine 24 times. Since the turn of the century, he's won 13 Grammy awards and has topped the Billboard album chart five times. He played a Super Bowl halftime show at age 60. Respectively, the guy's nickname is "The Boss." His new album is titled “High Hopes.”

 

Don't get your hopes up.

 

To Springsteen's credit, he is a busy man. The Boss has been putting out new material pretty consistently. I myself have been a Springsteen fan since middle school. His music has not only impacted a world of artists, but it has impacted myself as a listener. At the beginning of every road trip, I start the engine to my 1983 Honda Accord and sing all the words to "Thunder Road" at the top of my lungs whilst pounding the dashboard for the drum fills. Springsteen is truly The Boss when it comes to his storytelling skills and romanticized imagery in his music. You’ve got to love this guy.

 

“High Hopes” is a collective of recordings from the last 10 years or so that didn't make it on to any of his full-length releases. After listening to these songs, I can tell why he decided to not release them sooner. In fact, I'm curious as to why he decided to release them at all.

 

The disappointment begins with the album cover itself. Look at his serious facial expressions. Are we supposed to be taking this man seriously? I mean, it looks like an awkward glob of light is exploding from the abdominal/crotch area of his body. Oh, wait — that's a Photoshopped guitar. My bad. At least the music on here isn't awkward, right?

 

… Right?

 

Lyrically, Springsteen is singing about the same stuff he's been singing about for the last 15 years. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but how many times can you use the words "fire," "strength" and "hope" in your music? There are actually two songs on this same album that mention babies crying. Anyway, the lyricism isn't bad, but it's 100 percent predictable Springsteen. Instrumentally, it's a mess. Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello is a special guest guitarist throughout the album. Morello has never sounded so weak. His guitars don't add any grit to the songs but instead just sound really corny and overly dramatic.  

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