Listened to High Hopes earlier on the ol’ Spotify. It’s fairly enjoyable, if typical of everything Springsteen’s released since … well, possibly since The Ghost of Tom Joad. Sure it’s all slick and scattered, but I reckon it’s most certainly a country mile better than the last three albums.
On the subject of slick. That’s been my issue with The Boss’ records since Tom Joad (though I am quite fond of Devils & Dust). Starting with The Rising. There were a bunch of good songs on there, but they were hidden under layers and the album itself was over-long. It was the dawn of the new improved bombastic Boss (taking the bombast to all new levels). With each new record came brand new levels of bombast and melodrama. Like he’s soundtracking some really bad soap opera (like Sunset Beach or even Baywatch Nights!) or over compensation for the fact that he’s so super-mega-ultima-rich and suchlikes that what he’s saying just isn’t relevant anymore.
I was messaging a friend of mine about the album and he was saying he’d heard it was dreadful. I wouldn’t say that. It’s a country mile better than Magic, Working on a Dream and Wrecking Ball. Given my views on those albums, though, that’s not saying an awfy lot. So I’ll go on record as saying that it’s on a par with The Rising. In fact, it’s as scattered and incoherent as The Rising. Importantly, though, it’s considerably shorter. I honestly enjoyed it. Mostly.
Anyhoo, I guess the most important, and telling, aspect of the listen was that I wanted to listen to some ol’ Springsteen. Before he started the whole over produced and over worked routine (those albums just have way too much going on at any one time (think Spider-Man 3)). I opted for The River. An album that’s also scattered and incoherent, but where the songwriting and the Phil Spector-like production was spot on.
I know that there wont be many who’ll agree, but maybe Springsteen needs to shed the gimmicks a bit, reflect on his journey and acknowledge who he is. Get back to telling great stories. For now, though, enjoy High Hopes for what it is.