Springsteen’s hopes not high enough for new album

By Carl Nadig

Music enthusiasts can rejoice now that Bruce Springsteen released his 18th studio album Jan. 14, but don’t get too excited.

“High Hopes” is everything a Springsteen fan expects it to be, and that’s where its main weakness lies. Nearly every song on “High Hopes” follows the same overly simple songwriting pattern as the previous track, and the album drags on. For nearly its entirety, the album’s dynamic remains on a straight plane and doesn’t attempt to sink into despondent grooves or ascend toward climatic peaks. With cookie-cutter songs that sound overly generic, like “Frankie Fell In Love” and “Heaven’s Wall,” the songs feel more like stuffed filler. The album feels awkwardly assembled together.

“The best way to describe this record is that’s its [sic] a bit of an anomaly,” said Springsteen according to RollingStone.com. “But not much. I don’t really work linearly like a lot of people do…. The songs were relatively current and had a similar sound picture. I was interested in putting this material together in some form because it sounded like it all fit together.”

Aside from its stale taste, the only real redemption for this album is found in an unexpected addition to the lineup.

In a collaboration with Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist, Tom Morello, Springsteen fuses an urgency and atmosphere of contempt in a marvelously rearranged version of “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

With the addition of Morello’s frighteningly appropriate studio presence, the track has a fresh perspective that provides a changing dynamic the album otherwise lacks. With Springsteen and Morello providing guitar solos in this ballad about the laborious hardships of the working man, a perfect union between an esteemed songwriter and revolutionary guitarist is fused. The real depth of the album is found here.

Aside from Springsteen’s surprising musical guest, this album isn’t very captivating.