• Record Label: Columbia
  • Release Date: Jan 14, 2014
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42
Buy On
  1. Uncut
    Jan 15, 2014
    90
    There's a sombre edge to almost all these songs, even when the Hammond organ is wailing and the backbeat is a mile wide.... Morello's presence is crucial to the tone of the album. [Feb 2014, p.65]
  2. Jan 6, 2014
    90
    The cumulative effect of this mass of old, borrowed, blue and renewed – covers, recent outtakes and redefining takes on two classics--is retrospect with a cutting edge, running like one of the singer's epic look-ma-no-set-list gigs: full of surprises, all with a reason for being there.
  3. Jan 6, 2014
    83
    [Morello's] contributions feel inventive, versatile and natural, like an extension of the direction Springsteen was already moving in.... Aniello's production work definitely enhances and does not distract from or obscure the tracks.
  4. Feb 5, 2014
    80
    A bygone feel permeates a few of the songs; the joyful saloon rock of Frankie Fell In Love takes listeners back to The River, and Down In The Hole recalls the more reflective Bruce of Born In The USA and Tunnel Of Love.
  5. For a stopgap release that no one expected, assembled from outtakes, B-sides, and covers that all but the most ardent Bruce followers would call inessential, High Hopes is still a remarkably cohesive and consistent record, and serves as a wonderful way to kick off 2014.
  6. Jan 13, 2014
    80
    There’s something about High Hopes’ slight incoherence that actually stands to its advantage--it’s a less homogenous, polished whole than Magic or The Rising and a fresher, more arresting listen.
  7. Even looking backwards, Springsteen finds ways to light the road ahead.
  8. Jan 7, 2014
    80
    There’s a spirit of collaboration that is largely new, a genuine and warm-hearted celebration of past members’ contributions and a celebration of the rowdy, uplifting storm cooked up by the 18-strong modern incarnation of the group.
  9. 80
    Though lacking the thematic unity one expects from Springsteen albums, High Hopes has much to recommend it, particularly the way that Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has re-invigorated old material like “American Skin (41 Shots)” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.
  10. Classic Rock Magazine
    Jan 2, 2014
    80
    It's a pleasing patchwork of echoes of the past. [Feb 2014, p.92]
  11. Q Magazine
    Jan 2, 2014
    80
    A record that unfolds like a collection of short stories, occasionally hokey but more often affectingly vivid. [Feb 2014, p.108]
  12. Feb 20, 2014
    78
    Post 9/11 sessions for The Rising yield early continuity ("American Skin [41 Shots]"), but once Springsteen goes Stax with full-on gospel rock ("Heaven's Wall"), High Hopes reveals its soft brown underbelly.
  13. 75
    Songs about decades-old social injustices should make him sound out of touch, but High Hopes still crackles with immediacy, despite the cobbled-together nature of the material.
  14. Jan 8, 2014
    70
    Strictly speaking, these 12 songs don't cohere into a mood or narrative but after two decades of deliberate, purposeful albums, it's rather thrilling to hear Springsteen revel in a mess of contradictions.
  15. 70
    High Hopes plays very much like a sequel to Wrecking Ball, but Springsteen is less angry and blameful, more cheerfully weary this time around.
  16. 63
    When your Springsteen itch needs scratching, only a few of these even three months from now are going to pass muster. But it's not like you'll be starved for choices.
  17. Jan 16, 2014
    60
    High Hopes, being promoted as his 18th officially, is a mixed bag of covers, re-workings of songs that have appeared elsewhere, and previously unreleased material written for other projects. With some of the tracks, there's even overlap among these divisions.
  18. Jan 14, 2014
    60
    Morello is all over this album with mixed results. There are some great songs here.
  19. Jan 14, 2014
    60
    As an artist, he’s always lived and died by the principle that the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. High Hopes, by contrast, is precisely as good as its best material and as bad as its worst, nothing more and nothing less.
  20. Jan 14, 2014
    60
    The selections run the predictable gamut of great to interesting to wholly disposable, but the breadth of material here nonetheless reaffirms Springsteen’s talents as a songwriter and interpreter of others’ work.
  21. Jan 13, 2014
    60
    The best of them--mostly the resigned or farseeing songs, the songs that have no hero and no story--rise above the odds. But a large portion of the record feels, let’s say, official.
  22. Jan 13, 2014
    60
    Given that these recordings span different eras and sessions, High Hopes does have a cohesiveness, flow, and degrees of greatness, but unlike the career-spanning rarities comp Tracks, there's nothing about these lost or revisited songs that screams out "Jackpot!"
  23. Jan 13, 2014
    60
    [The record] takes the idea of a stopgap album full of odds and ends and reimagines it as something much more satisfying.
  24. Jan 10, 2014
    60
    Morello appears on most of the tracks here, and he's largely an enlivening presence, electrifying Springsteen's revolutionary spark, but he still hasn't figured out how to open up a solo without changing the entire tone of a song. Springsteen himself has a similar problem, struggling to deliver pointed social critique without sliding into his comfort zones.
  25. Jan 10, 2014
    60
    Perhaps its on-the-hoof, anomalous nature is the source of a sense that High Hopes, though good, doesn't feel either like a set of surprising others sides or quite as cohesive or great as the title of 'new Springsteen album' (as opposed to say 'iTunes bonus tracks', or 'B-side collection', which might have been more fitting categories) might demand.
  26. Jan 9, 2014
    60
    High Hopes may be a stopgap, but it is one assembled with tender, loving care.
  27. Jan 9, 2014
    60
    There’s not much new here, but Springsteen has always traded on a maudlin permanent nostalgia that only works because it’s so fucking earnest that it blasts through our attempts to be cynical about it.
  28. 60
    In spite of its shortcomings, High Hopes will tide fans over until the next bona fide LP.
  29. Mojo
    Jan 2, 2014
    60
    Perhaps inevitably, given the material's scattered provenance High Hopes lacks the cohesion, both thematic and sonic that characterised Magic and Wrecking Ball. [Feb 2014, p.86]
  30. 60
    There’s a lot of great stuff on here, but it doesn’t hold together and doesn’t come close to being one of Springsteen’s great albums.
  31. Jan 14, 2014
    58
    With High Hopes, Springsteen splashes his brightest colors against a canvas, crosses his fingers, and hopes they mesh.
  32. Jan 24, 2014
    50
    With its sharply defined highs and curiously odd misses, there’s more than enough here for dedicated fans to sift through, to extrapolate new shades of Springsteen from. For the rest of us, though, there isn’t quite enough to hold our attention.
  33. 50
    Given Morello’s dynamite live sets with the E Street Band, it’s a shame that the Springsteen album with his biggest influence is so underwhelming.
  34. Jan 21, 2014
    50
    Too many songs disappoint, though.
  35. Jan 13, 2014
    50
    Little wonder the two finest moments ["Hunter of Invisible Game" and "The Wall"] on this otherwise ho-hum Springsteen album are by a considerable margin its most understated.
  36. 50
    As such, High Hopes is a standstill album, momentous for being the first effort in a long time where The Boss appears speechless at the podium.
  37. Jan 9, 2014
    50
    It's well within the Boss' right to try and freshen up old material, especially 18 albums in, but this one lacks a through-line beyond the distracting (and occasionally straight-up embarrassing) Morello.
  38. Nearly all the tracks on High Hopes are wildly overproduced and arranged, leaving no room to rock.
  39. Jan 14, 2014
    40
    [A] lackluster High Hopes.
  40. Jan 13, 2014
    40
    An unwelcome presence, Morello is simply the most obvious of many elements on High Hopes that just don’t work. It’s all the more unfortunate given that there are actually some redeemable songs here, along with some brief glimpses of Springsteen the rock'n'roll storyteller.
  41. Jan 14, 2014
    39
    While Springsteen is notorious for painstakingly sequencing his albums, High Hopes was a losing battle--a puzzle with pieces that, more often than not, just don’t interlock.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 56 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Jan 15, 2014
    10
    I was sceptical at first, but when it comes to listen to a new Springsteen album you can always have a surprise. This has been one of thoseI was sceptical at first, but when it comes to listen to a new Springsteen album you can always have a surprise. This has been one of those times. The new record seems to be very very solid, similar, somehow, to other works of the artist (it actually sounds more like Magic and The Rising, than Wrecking Ball). Ron Aniello did an amazing job, even though we can't say the same about Brendan O'Brien: while Aniello makes the songs sound fresh and new, O'Brien seems to stop the energy of the E Street Band, making the tracks sound a little bit static. But after all, only details can be criticized: like that awful guitar solo on "Heaven's Wall", an unusual gospel and biblical song, written to be very light. Morello is way too heavy playing on that, and that makes a contrast which is not good for hears, not good at all. The title track, "High Hopes" does not sound very inspired, talking about arrangements, but Bruce's voice keeps the song at a great level. "Harry's Place" may not be a classic Springsteen songs (it reminds a lot the nineties) but that groove and that sax really work. "The Wall", on the other hand, is a real classic Springsteen song, with amazing and moving lyrics, and a melody that recalls Fields Of Gold. Very impressive are "Down In The Hole" (a ballad with the rhythm of "I'm On Fire" and the atmosphere of "Paradise"), "This Is Your Sword" (an Irish rock song with a hopeful text), "Hunter Of Invisible Game" (another ballad very similar to "Jack Of All Trades" and with an apocalyptic text). This album really deserves to be listened. It's fresh, unusual, something about the new generation, but even about the Bruce Springsteen we all know. It deserves to be listened. Because The Boss has always something to say. Full Review »
  2. Jan 14, 2014
    3
    i'm a big big fan of bruce but this new album is utter **** high hopes or as it should be called big disappointment, music is horrendous, thei'm a big big fan of bruce but this new album is utter **** high hopes or as it should be called big disappointment, music is horrendous, the way ghost of tom joad is ruined is beyond my comprehension, i listened it live in new version and it's great but the studio version is plain awful, the same goes for the american skin, i just can't believe bruce released album of such poor quality Full Review »
  3. Sep 29, 2014
    10
    It is rare for me to like every single song on an album, but such is the case with High Hopes for me. From the hard-rocking "Ghost of TomIt is rare for me to like every single song on an album, but such is the case with High Hopes for me. From the hard-rocking "Ghost of Tom Joad" to the slow and soulful "Hunter of Invisible Game", you will go through a range of emotions with this wonderful collection. Full Review »