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Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

Magic by Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)

The Boss’s new record, marked by another reunion with the E Street Band – only his second studio album with the group since 1984's Born in the U.S.A. – has been hailed as his return to rock, after the introspectively literary Devils & Dust and the traditional heartlands folk of We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions. In truth, things are far from that simple.

While the balls out rock’n’roller opener ‘Radio Nowhere’ cruises along like the big band flip-side of Nebraska’s sparse acoustic ‘State Trooper’, its dial just as ‘jammed up with talk show stations’, it’s surprising that there aren’t more flat-out rockers on show. When coupled with Brendan O’Brien’s over-fussy, digital age production, this leads to a rather mannered set, not unlike that of the similarly O’Brien produced The Rising. But while this approach may have been appropriate for that cautious, 9/11 rumination, here it just holds things back, with the result that the songs are in danger of sounding like all those other ones you hear pumping out of Top 40 stations.




While it is undoubtedly a sprightly band album, the overwhelming themes here are those of decay and corruption. The wistful ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes’ is a great mid-life crisis anthem, while ‘Last To Die’ gives rein to Springsteen’s largely self-appointed role as spokesman for the ‘good’ Americans. Given the punchy slickness on display here, it’ll be interesting to see if this summer’s live shows provide a rawer, more immediate, beefed-up take on this material.

First published in Magill magazine, February/March 2008.













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