Now this is the record Bruce Springsteen should’ve released earlier this year.
American Beauty, The Boss’ Record Store Day release is an excellent four song EP that contains songs, that for some ungodly reason, were left off his January 2014 full-length, High Hopes.
The songs on this collection are infinitely better than than 90% of what appeared on High Hopes. That record felt like a collection of cast-off songs (which it was in many respects) that just didn’t fit together, while American Beauty jives perfectly. This feels like a Springsteen record — there’s rousing, soul-stirring anthems, introspective, intense and insightful lyrics and this aura of emotion, one that hits you right in the pit of your soul, like a Bruce record should.
“American Beauty” (the song) was what “High Hopes” (the song) was not — a classic Bruce anthem. Let’s be clear, “High Hopes” was a fun radio/bar single like a lesser version of “Glory Days,” but there’s something about “American Beauty.” It has this majestic, Boss-esque grandeur that puts it in the category (but not on par with) with his big, epic anthems like “Born to Run” or “Born in the U.S.A.” Again, this song is nowhere near as good as these classics, but damn is it good.
“Hurry Up Sundown” is probably one of the more interesting tracks The Boss has produced on a record released in 2014. It has this uncharacteristic E-Street sound because it sounds like something a band that hit it big in the mid-90s alt-rock/alt-pop would’ve created…and that’s not a bad thing. There’s breezy rock ‘n’ roll quality to it as if it were a B-Side to the fantastic modern-day Bruce tune, “Girls in Their Summer Clothes.” It’s a summery jam that sounds like it was created after Bruce had just listened to Pete Yorn all day while lounging on the beach.
Then there are the two lyrically-driven tracks, “Mary Mary” and “Hey Blue Eyes.” For those of you out there that enjoy Bruce at his most political and his most introspective, these songs will be your jam. They’re simple songs, with the focus on the Bruce’s words and voice, and you can’t much better than that.
High Hopes let a lot of us down this year. But, thankfully, there’s American Beauty, a four-song sampling of just how amazing Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are. When Springsteen gets around to making his next full length of original tunes, let’s hope it sounds more like this gem, because if it does, it’ll be another classic to add to his already famed catalog.