the new Springsteen album,
with The E-Street Band

Sometimes, reviewing an album is simple : it all comes down to seperating the good tracks from the bad.

I can hear you say : "Julian, you'll love Magic anyway : it's a Bruce Springsteen album and he's your absolute musical hero."

Think again, because I won't enter the fanboy trap. Not every Spielberg movie is a masterpiece, not every Miyamoto game is a killer and not every Brucey album is a guaranteed floorfiller. Well, scratch that last sentence. After all, when was the last time you heard a Springsteen song in a discothèque?

So, in case of a 'chances are I'll like it anyway' album review, I'll use math :

+ => the instant classics
+/- => the good songs
- => the mediocre songs


+ = Radio Nowhere, You'll Be Coming Down, Livin' In The Future, Your Own Worst Enemy, Girls In Their Summer Clothes, Magic, Devil's Arcade, Terry's Song

+/- = I'll Work For Your Love, Long Walk Home

- = Gypsy Biker, Last To Die

66.7% is brilliant, 16.67% is fine and 16.67% is pretty lame. "Lame" meaning "ten times better than anything I'll ever write".

66.7%? How does that compare to my other favourite Springsteen albums? Born To Run scores 'just' 62.5% [5 out of 8 tracks are quintessential], The Rising receives a 80% [12 out of 15] and Born In The U.S.A. gets a 75% [9 out of 12].

According to those numbers, Magic should be better than uberclassic Born To Run. Bollocks, of course. Born To Run is much better than Magic, but has fewer tracks (8 compared to 12) ... hence the lower score. And The Rising was a incredible comeback, but even that album's super songs can't measure up to the sheer brilliance of Born To Run's "Thunder Road", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", "Backstreets", the title track and - above all - "Jungeland".

In closing : Magic is very, very good ... but not perfect. Want three recommendations to download via iTunes? "Livin' In The Future" is the most uplifting, "Magic" is the sharpest and "Terry's Song" is the most touching.

You still hold the candle, Jersey devil. New bands : come and claim it - if you dare.

Julian De Backer, 16 November 2007