The sorrow over Les Savy's reappearance derives from this collection's less spontaneous, less whimsical, less confrontational, and less important sound. Perhaps that comes from taking six years away from recording full-length albums. A certain raucousness is missing. It's desperately missed.
If the album title subtly acknowledges that the times they are a-changin', the 12 tracks here go a long way to mending any previous ruptures.
-- CAREY MURPHY
DOWNLOAD: "Patty Lee"
Bruce Springsteen has been the bard of the broken American Dream for 30 years, and George W. Bush is giving him more material than ever. How do you channel all the anger without making the music ... different? Great artists slip their message under your skin without your really knowing it, and the Boss is truly great this time out.
On Magic, he has dialed back the earnestness.
With four-minute songs in a wall of sound, the politics go down easier. In a song like "Last To Die," first you just want to drive too fast on an open road; the lyrics hit you afterward. That's a powerful one-two punch. But "Gypsy Biker" -- which starts with the line, "The speculators made their money" -- misses the mark because it wants to pound the rage into you.
Bruce Springsteen is more than a rock star, and Magic is more than a record. This is the art of hope.
-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.
DOWNLOAD: "Last To Die"