When you've been in business as long as Bruce Springsteen has been in business, there are going to be few people who haven't already made up their minds about the quality of your work and your role in the rock and roll continuum. It's an ongoing, never-ending challenge - how does an artist maintain his identity, while sounding new and fresh at the same time? Go too far in either direction, and that artist is bound to hear things like "sounds like everything he's ever recorded before" or "why is he trying to sound like something he's not?"
Put another way, everyone in the world made up their mind about Bruce Springsteen long before the release of "Wrecking Ball." So when you write about the album, you can't do so with the expectation that you're going to change anyone's mind. It just isn't going to happen.
So maybe this is written for the fans. And this is just the first glance; there will be more. But after just over 24 hours of listening, I hear something in "Wrecking Ball" that I haven't heard for a very long time, perhaps since "Tunnel of Love" 25 years ago - a fully realized, wholly consistent view of the world, unified both in themes and in sound. No, it's not going to change any minds; it's far too late for that.
But this isn't "Working on a Dream," or even "Magic" or "The Rising" - as great as some parts of each of those albums were. This is something different. I feel confident in saying, even though it's only March, that this is the album of the year.
More to come.