| 4.8°C Dublin

Back to the future in a cartload of cliches

Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball (Sony)

When future manager Jon Landau spouted that guff about seeing the future of rock'n'roll he sold music fans a pup.

Springsteen was never the future. He's rock's back pages, pumped up on steroids which result in bombast and flatulence.

Few doubt that this is Bruce's best album since Nebraska in 1982. Not difficult. His last few collections ranged from mundane to average.

Yet Springsteen is the most proficient bar band rocker of our times. Toss him three chords and he'll belt out a raucous closing-time anthem that'll send you home sweating.

Just don't expect innovation. That's not Bruce's thing. Rock'n'roll reheats, rethreads and revisions are -- and Bruce remains as subtle as the steamroller he favours to crack his rock'n'roll nuts.

Album opener, We Take Care Of Our Own, pulls the time-honoured Springsteen stunt of sounding jingoistic while teasing out the moral dilemma at the core of the American dream.

After that it's downhill all the way, which might be exactly the message Bruce wants to convey about the state of the economy and American geo-politics.

Choirs of backing singers accompany his enthusiastic yelping on the folksy Easy Money. Accordion embellishes the cod chain-gang ditty Shackled and Drawn. "What's a poor boy to do but keep singing his song?" he asks wearily.

Despite doing his best Burl Ives, and adding haunting horns, the Boss drastically overcooks the simplistic ballad Jack Of All Trades.

And the cliches pile up. "Thunder's rolling down this track" (Land of Hope and Dreams), "40 days and nights of rain washed this land" (Rocky Ground) and "ain't no one can steal it" (You Got It).

Bruce sounds like a cack-handed Pogues tribute act on Death to My Hometown. Sadly, an overblown drum sound gives his heartfelt confessional This Depression a some what constipated feel.

Don't you dare mention Woody Guthrie. HHHII