Somehow, 37 years after Bruce Springsteen was declared ‘the future of rock’n’roll’ – and 28 years since he fell into laughable parody by cavorting with Courtney Cox in the ‘Dancing in the Dark’ video – the 62-year-old is cool again. The Boss’s rehabilitation from plodding dad-rocker has been glacial: 1991’s career low Human Touch was eventually excused by 2002’s post-9/11 tub-thumper The Rising. But that was nothing compared with the frankly embarrassing embrace afforded his latest effort.
Billed as ‘Bruce vs Wall Street’, Wrecking Ball has prompted normally sober critics to unleash frenzied, schoolboy-like testimonials to the (multimillionaire) blue-collar hero aiming his Fender Telecaster at ‘all them fat cats, [who] just think it’s funny.’ Finally arriving in UAE stores five months after it topped charts in at least 15 countries, you’d be forgiven for feeling left out.
The hype’s not entirely misplaced. Bruce sure sounds angry, and his bombastic, snare drum-destroying, fist-waving anthems are an ideal vehicle to channel this angst of the masses. But alongside the trademark stomp there are dashes of Irish tin whistle, Italian mandolin, gospel choir, a rap, and even a Mariachi band. The Boss has extended his sonic palate far and wide to reflect the American downtrodden.
The finished product can be a bit overwhelming – charging Bruce Springsteen with a lack of subtlety is more than missing the point – but, true to its name, Wrecking Ball does most damage when it offers swinging, tectonic-shaking blows. It may not be the masterful critique some have rhapsodised, but it’s hard to think of a more fitting target for the growing pains of an elder statesman of rock.