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Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes

Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album at times evokes the “look, Ma, no set list” spontaneity of some of his legendary live shows.

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Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album at times evokes the “look, Ma, no set list” spontaneity of some of his legendary live shows, said David Fricke in Rolling Stone. A collection of recent outtakes, fresh versions of old songs, and even a couple of covers, it sounds “familiar, urgent themes” as the band behind the tireless 64-year-old pumps out a drumbeat of “rock-soul dynamite.” But Springsteen tapped Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello to be the record’s lead guitarist, and “it turns out to be a ghastly match,” said Jim Farber in the New York Daily News. “Nearly all the tracks on High Hopes are wildly overproduced,” and most of Morello’s solos “sound like tacky hair-metal schmaltz.” The album has moments, but its centerpieces—including a version of “American Skin,” a song inspired by a 1999 New York City police shooting—“highlights everything that’s gone wrong with Springsteen’s music in the 21st century,” said Stephen M. Deusner in Pitchfork.com. “It’s garish and melodramatic”—maximalist in all the wrong ways.

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