Inspired by the promise of Barack Obama and perhaps the potential windfall of having a new album for sale right after performing at the inauguration, Bruce Springsteen has completed the follow-up to 2007's Magic in record time.
The speedy turnaround may have worked in his favour; the Boss's recent releases have been overwrought in their composition, performance and production. That's not to suggest that he knocked out the songs for Working On A Dream live off the studio floor, but he seems content to settle for decent heartland narratives colourfully related rather than trying turn each tune into a teaching moment with profound moral consequences for humanity.
Regrettably, Springsteen has trouble leaving well enough alone. No matter how small the song idea, he whips it up into a sweeping epic with lavish choral accompaniment and blustery solos all building to some grand final flourish. Instead of releasing a limited-edition version with a making-of DVD, he should've included his home demo versions, which I'd wager are much more enjoyable.
Top track: The Wrestler