Where to begin about Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band’s 18th studio record, High Hopes? Let’s break it down one at a time: There are bagpipes, synthesizers, 80’s saxophone, Gospel choirs and feral lead guitar (courtesy Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello). It also includes songs featuring lyrics about church mice, Romeo and Juliet, swords and yes, shields.
None of that could possibly work together, right? It has to be awful, right?! Wrong.
What is truly unique about this record is the variance amid the tracks, both musically and lyrically. It’s equal parts experimental and straight-forward. “Harry’s Place” drops F-bombs like Nick Cave, “Frankie Fell in Love” could be an A.M.-era Wilco A-Side, while the revision of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” rambles on with swelling leads and overdriven drums like Zeppelin from, well, any of their records.
Quite simply, High Hopes rocks like a record made by men a third their age. Yet, as with most art, there are misses, but when things are working, they work well.