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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Bruce Springsteen -- Darkness on the Edge of Town


Springsteen comes off of, Born to Run, his biggest success yet, with an album that tones down the theatricality, and focuses more on individual characters. Basically everything I complain about in my Born to Run review is absent here on Darkness on the Edge of Town. I'm not just trying to be a contrarian by saying the less popular of these two albums is better--it's just logically better, and here is why:
1. Subtlety: The arrangements are elegant but less busy than Born to Run. The album sounds grittier and less polished, but still professional. The band sounds tighter together than ever.  When there's a saxophone, it's because there is supposed to be saxophone.
2. Flow: These ten very different songs fit well together and feel like they tell a complete story. Springsteen repeats certain phrases and musical patterns throughout to lend to the feelings of cohesion and consistency. Also, Darkness on the Edge of Town actually builds to a moment of catharsis, "Prove It All Night" that feels earned because:
3. Emotion: The stories Bruce tells here about desperate people who really need to get away from where they are are finally starting to feel fully formed and not just like caricatures. The more real a song is, the more emotion it can contain. When Bruce sings "Adam Raised a Cain," obviously referencing his own troubled relationship with his father, you can feel it a lot stronger than a song about someone asking someone else to get on their motorcycle with them. It also probably helps that "Adam Raised a Cain" sounds like the band is playing in the scariest blues bar ever at midnight over the sound of a black river.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is easily better than anything Bruce released before it. More cohesive, better songs, solid theme. The band sounds tighter. Bruce is a grown up. There is no logical level that someone can argue Born to Run is better than Darkness..., except that it sold more copies.
Now go listen to Bruce and his band rock out, or face the wrath.
1978 Columbia
1. Badlands 4:04
2. Adam Raised a Cain 4:34
3. Something in the Night 5:14
4. Candy's Room 2:48
5. Racing in the Street 6:54
6. The Promised Land 4:29
7. Factory 2:19
8. Streets of Fire 4:03
9. Prove It All Night 4:01
10. Darkness on the Edge of Town 4:29

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