Two-sentence reviews on new albums from Bruce Springsteen, The Shins, Lyle Lovett, Hospitality, Spiritualized and more 

Two Short

Two Short

Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball (Columbia)

Once again, one-percenter Bruce Springsteen sings of Johnny 99s and their hard times. The result is an impassioned late-career long player of slow-burning ballads mourning the plight of the marginalized, angry indictments of their adversarial Wall Street plutocrats, vociferous, Celtic-tinged foot stompers drunkenly toasting to American resilience and uplifting epics for those who need a little more than the drop to get by. —AG

The Shins, Port of Morrow (Columbia)

Long absent Garden State lifesavers trade youthful vigor for maturity and refinement, exploring a psych-tinged, synth-laden, soft-rock '70s. Frontman James Mercer's melancholy lyrics remain sharply focused, but — with the exception of "Bait and Switch" — the pretty layered music's underpowered enough to be driving Miss Daisy. —CP

Lyle Lovett, Release Me (Lost Highway)

Lovett delivers the final album from his career-long association with Curb Records, but unlike most contractual obligation records, it's not a stew of slap-dash seconds or just an exercise at flipping the bird to his former corporate masters. Instead, it's a truly fun collection of songs that showcase his abilities as roots-music amalgamator — no classics, but certainly worth a spin on a spring afternoon. —RF

Hospitality, Hospitality (Merge)

You know how some indie-pop albums are coated in preciousness, pushing their idiosyncratic little tunes past simply "cloying" and well into "insufferable" territory? Well, Hospitality's eponymous full-length debut doesn't do that, but rather lives in roughly the same terrain as Scotland's Camera Obscura (not literally — Hospitality is from Brooklyn), thanks primarily to classic pop melodies, warm and dreamy instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics. —DPR

The Ting Tings, Sounds From Nowheresville (Columbia)

The Ting Tings' Sounds From Nowheresville has entered the charts strongly in Austria and Switzerland — this is European-style decaf-espresso funk-lite with several interesting moments of congealed texture and disco overtones. For Americans, it comes down to whether you get off on Katie White's recitation in "Guggenheim" or the track's rather attractive guitar textures, and her self-love is so hapless throughout that you feel good about feeling sorry for her, so I'd give it a really quite generous 2.5 out of 5 stars, if you wanna know. —EH

Miniature Tigers, Mia Pharaoh (Modern Art)

Mini Tigers' latest is less of a psychedelic detour into indie-rock bedroom acid trips and disjointed pop hooks than was their sophomore release, Fortress. And while the synth-laden luster of Mia Pharaoh certainly has its mindless pop moments — as evidenced by lascivious album-opener "Sex on the Regular" — the dreamy genre-benders still return to the realm of quirky, brainy sing-alongs via cuts like "Boomerang." —DPR

Shooter Jennings, Family Man (Entertainment One)

On Family Man, Shooter Jennings seems to be walking a narrow path between mainstream country and Americana-flavored Southern rock, but it's not so much a case of confusion as he is searching for a way to bridge the gap between worlds. It's a risky endeavor since he stands to appeal to neither audience, but given the chance, I think he could pull it off, and for him that would most definitely be carrying on the family tradition. —RF

Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Fat Possum)

A lovingly crafted blend of space and gritty thrum, Sweet Heart Sweet Light is graceful and grimy with elegant, epic drift that harks back to their '97 classic Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. With neo-psych/shoegaze on the rise, it's good to hear these masters back in such fine form. —CP

Butterfly Boucher, Butterfly Boucher (self-Released)

With nostalgia for just about every pre-Aughts decade presently in the air, one-woman band and hook-writing pro Butterfly Boucher finds something in the spirits of '80s pop and '90s alt-rock to suit her brooding — and for the sake of being musical as opposed to simply referential or retro-savvy. In keeping with the times, there's a clubby track or two that could inspire fist-pumping, but more often, you'll hear lean-muscled grooves, bruised but fetching melodies and semi-private meditations on the elusive desires of a soul grown up but not tied down. —JH


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