- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bruce Springsteen

Working on a Dream

If you thought “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” that splashy Phil Spector throwback from Bruce Springsteen’s last album, “Magic,” was a revelation, read no further.

Buy your copy of “Working on a Dream,” and let’s stay friends.

However, if, as it did for me, the track puts you in mind of someone trying to imitate Frank Sinatra under the influence of methaqualone, read on.

With “Working on a Dream,” Mr. Springsteen goes all in: It’s his most conceptually ambitious album since 1975’s “Born to Run.”

The difference between then and now is that Mr. Springsteen is no longer that starry-eyed 25-year-old composing hungrily in a fleabag apartment in central Jersey.

Today, he’s … well, here’s Mr. Springsteen revealing the inspiration for the audaciously ill-conceived new track “Queen of the Supermarket” in an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper: “They opened up this big, beautiful supermarket near where we lived. [Wife] Patti and I would go down, and I remember walking through the aisles - I hadn’t been in one in awhile - and I thought, ‘This place is so spectacular. This place - it’s a fantasy land!’ ”

The narrator of the song - a weepily-sung ballad in the key of cheese - finds himself lusting after a white-aproned cashier; the “cool promise of ecstasy fills the air.”

A porno set in Wegmans: Oh, dear, where to start?

Perhaps, Mr. Man of the People, if you did your own shopping more often, you wouldn’t read absurd, libidinous Freudian subtexts into a well-stocked grocery store.

“Working on a Dream,” produced, once again, by the spectacularly, feverishly unsubtle space-filler Brendan O’Brien, has intentions of large-scale Spectorian sweetness - but it’s as stale and hardened as a gingerbread house in January.

It aims for “Pet Sounds” and lands instead on the soundtrack of “Xanadu.”

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