[Columbia; 2012]

It’s a strange thing when an artist has been around for so long that they’re still bringing out new music while all around them several people who have been influenced by that artist (less kindly: imitators) are also releasing music. This has happened to Bruce Springsteen; many artists who have brought out records in the last half-decade can cite The Boss as a main influence, the most obvious being Arcade Fire on their last two records. With “We Take Care Of Our Own,” it seems Bruce has taken stock of this and has thought “I can still write music like that!” and gone for the stomping, heroic, straightforward indie rock sound. Even the black-and-white single cover with Bruce donning his leather jacket and light-wood Fender harks back to Born To Run. But, in reality, it just sounds like a bad impression of Arcade Fire.

Springsteen has never been afraid to make grand statements about the state of things and the way people feel about them – just look at “Born in the USA.” With “We Take Care Of Our Own,” the message of the chorus seems to be that America is patriotic. Well, thanks for the reminder. The verses seem to be trying to enforce the same idea, but lines like “The road of good intentions is dry as a bone” just seem confused – wouldn’t you rather a dry road than a wet one? The seeming necessity to rhyme every line doesn’t help either; the line preceding that one is “I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone,” creating a simple, annoying and nonsensical couplet.

The lack of inspiration permeates into the album title too; Wrecking Ball sounds like it should be describing something devestatingly emotional like Emmylou Harris’s 1995 album of the same name, or, hell, even the Interpol song, but instead it seems arbitrary. (Granted, I haven’t heard the rest of the album.) In the end though, “We Take Care Of Our Own” will probably be a hit: it’s catchy, it’s replayable, and it’s sure-as-hell singalong-ready. So, while it may not see much love on sites like this, you can be sure to hear it on your car radio plenty over the coming months.

3/10