Jimmy Fallon truly helped introduce Wrecking Ball in a larger-than-life fashion by dedicating the entire week to Bruce Springsteen. Among interviews and sneak-previews of “Jack of All Trades” and “Death to My Hometown”, there were also awesome celebrity appearances by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, The Roots, and new E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons. The week ended with Fallon portraying Neil Young, and the two cover “Sexy And I Know It”, making it much more enjoyable and twenty times more hilarious. If anyone can make LMFAO tolerable, it’s The Boss.
With this hype and the fact that this is Springsteen’s 17th studio album, there was a lot of weight on Wrecking Ball’s shoulders. It certainly has the classic Springsteen feel, but with some new elements: a little Celtic jig in “Death to My Hometown,” a little indie here, a little Americana there, among other spices.
Every track is filled with energy, including the uh…rapping that goes down in “Rocky Ground.” This song in itself is a change from what we’ve come to expect, but the album overall is taking a different turn from the emotionally introspective albums that have been released most recently.
If nothing else, Wrecking Ball is (in true Boss fashion) a social and political commentary. Touching on themes of the economy, of revolution, of war and of the 1%, this album talks about America–and has a lot to say.
Many of the tracks discuss the American Dream and the fact that the majority of people have very few means by which to attain it; most of these tracks serve as his own protest songs. He isn’t just protesting, though — he is angrily revolting. With lines like “C’mon and take your best shot/Let me see what you got” in the title track, “If I had me a gun/I’d find the bastards and shoot em on site” in “Jack of All Trades” and “Hold tight to your anger/And don’t fall to your fears” from the ironic “We Take Care of Our Own,” The Boss is seriously kicking ass and taking names.
Springsteen himself admitted that the Occupy movement was an influence on this album, and some tracks make that painstakingly obvious. For example, take “Shackled and Drawn”: “Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bills/It’s still fat and easy up on banker’s hill/Up on banker’s hill, the party’s going strong/Down here, we’re shackled and drawn.” Track after track is a working man’s anthem, a rallying cry for the 99%. Springsteen sees what’s going on in America, and he has written song after song about his distaste for it.
A hugely passionate album, Wrecking Ball takes one part classic Springsteen style, one part new spices, and one part political commentary to create an Americana stew with a kick. Sure, this album yielded no “Born to Run” and certainly no “Born in the USA,” but it is nothing to shake your fist at. Maybe there are no instant classics in this album, but it is certainly the Springsteen we know and love. It’s The Boss; he’ll always having something to say about what’s going on, and we certainly hope he’ll sing about it.