Bruce Springsteen's much-heralded return to the studio with his E Street Band does not disappoint.

Bruce Springsteen's much-heralded return to the studio with his E Street Band does not disappoint. "Lonesome Day" is a gently thrumming, pulsing gem reminiscent lyrically of Darkness-era bitterness, while "Into the Fire" is a stylish blend of lilting guitars, syncopated power, and killer Springsteen vocals. The record waxes E Street retro with breezy fare like "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," the cool "Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)," the joyful "Mary's Place," and gospel-tinged "My City of Ruins." Elsewhere, "Further on up the Road" is a balls-out rocker, while "The Fuse" smolders with menace. Brendan O'Brien's production brings a lot to the party, from well-placed strings to contemporary beats and edge, bringing wall-of-sound power to "Countin' on a Miracle" and brisk clarity to the vulnerable "Empty Sky." Obviously inspired by world events, Springsteen's lyrics are more yearning, spiritual, and redemptive than ever. Impassioned and bold, this record is a triumph. The future is now.—RW

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