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Bruce Springsteen

High Hopes | Columbia

Ever since Bruce Springsteen emerged in the early 1970s, each of his subsequent releases has seemed to oscillate between arena rock anthems and stripped-down power ballads.

This divide can be heard almost immediately on High Hopes and is best exemplified by the juxtaposition of songs “High Hopes” and “Down in a Hole.” Like his previous hits “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA,” these songs touch on the theme of working class hardship.

“High Hopes” has an uplifting guitar swagger paired with the common man touch, with lyrics such as, “Give me love, give me peace, don’t you know these days you pay for everything?”

“Down in a Hole” has similar sounds and songs as The Rising, and classic dark masterwork Nebraska. It has a haunted background rhythm, and morbid lyrics like, “The day rips apart, a dark and bloody arrow pierced my heart.”

What these two songs show is the dichotomy of Springsteen’s lyrical and musical content. In this case they are undercut by the irony of the album title: High Hopes.

—Jesse Mellott