Bruce Springsteen Magic

Bruce Springsteen reconnects with the E Street Band on a great album that has a tense, contemporary mood. Springsteen essentially disbanded his famous group in the late ’80s because he just didn’t know where to take their sound. On 2002 reunion record The Rising, Springsteen left such sonic considerations to producer Brendan O’Brien, and the E Street Band were somewhat lost in the mix. After brilliant records without them — Devils & Dust, and two Seeger Sessions Band documents — Springsteen returns to E Street with O’Brien in tow, only this time sparks are flying. Like his greatest records, Magic is a dark view of a downtrodden America, with idealism, frustration and romanticism rendered realistically. The rage against a forthcoming apocalypse is clear in the gritty "Radio Nowhere” but it’s subtler on the politically charged "Livin’ in the Future,” a subversion of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” The Beach Boy sounds that so influenced Born to Run loom large on "Your Own Worst Enemy” and "Girls in their Summer Clothes,” while rockers "Gypsy Biker” and "Last to Die” are two of the finest wartime narratives of the past five years. O’Brien remains an imperfect fit for the E Street Band but the idiosyncratic inventiveness of each player is more present, making Magic a wondrous addition to Springsteen’s storied catalogue. (Columbia)