The Boss is back at work

Bruce Springsteen has a dream: to rock until his heart explodes.

Photo courtesy AP/ Bill Kostroun.

Ashley Goetz

Photo courtesy AP/ Bill Kostroun.

Bruce Springsteen ALBUM: âÄúWorking on a Dream.âÄù LABEL: Columbia The economy is in a worrisome state of flux, the fighting in the Middle East erupts unexpectedly and Jay Leno keeps flip-flopping on his much-needed retirement. Despite all of this turmoil, one thing remains everlasting: Bruce SpringsteenâÄôs ability to make otherwise manly men wish they were teenage girls transported back to the late 1970s. Such is the case with his new album, âÄúWorking on a Dream.âÄù YouâÄôre probably saying to yourself, âÄúBruce has been rocking that old man soul patch for a bit too long,âÄù and youâÄôd be right, but that doesnâÄôt mean heâÄôs lost his quintessential âÄúBossnessâÄù or the ability to make great music. The manâÄôs been on a roll as of late, winning awards around the clock for the recordâÄôs final track, âÄúThe Wrestler ,âÄù from the eponymous feature film, and it was just last Sunday that he rocked the pants off the Super Bowl halftime show. The Boss has still got it. Much of âÄúWorking on a DreamâÄù plays like classic Springsteen. His grizzled voice belts out the experience of the common man, layers of guitars and keys bordering on tumult dance on top of each other and, on queue, the lurking saxophone solo screeches forth and drowns it all out. And while this approach may be formulaic, it is still highly enjoyable. âÄúMy Lucky DayâÄù is a notable example; its optimistic tone and quick tempo keep you hooked throughout, while Bruce belts out his praises for a certain lovely lady. Similarly, the title track sounds like something off of âÄúBorn in the U.S.A.âÄù that melted into an optimistic model for the downtrodden. But the highlights of the album lie in the melancholic tracks at the tail end. âÄúThe Last CarnivalâÄù is a melodic acoustic dirge centering on, you guessed it, carnies. And while the lyrics seem pretty goofy at face value (âÄúWhere have you gone my handsome Billy?âÄù), Springsteen somehow makes the song endearing. âÄúThe Wrestler âÄù really is the highlight of the album; itâÄôs a sad story of a broken man and is sincerely moving. Springsteen belts out with real emotion, âÄúThese things that have comforted me I drive away (anything more)/ This place that is my home I cannot stay (anything more)/ My only faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display.âÄù ItâÄôs one of SpringsteenâÄôs most powerful songs in recent years. So, while it isnâÄôt anywhere near âÄúBorn to Run ,âÄù the songs of âÄúWorking On a DreamâÄù get the job done. There are a handful of genuinely awesome tracks (âÄúThe Wrestler,âÄù âÄúMy Lucky Day,âÄù âÄúThis LifeâÄù) with only a few outright failures (âÄúQueen of the Supermarket,âÄù âÄúSurprise, SurpriseâÄù). As a whole, âÄúWorking on a DreamâÄù is an admirable effort by an aging rock star.