Album Review

Jesse Malin - Glitter In The Gutter

Jesse Malin - Glitter In The Gutter

While he was out on his ragtime detour last year, Bruce Springsteen became something of a trend story. Bands such as the Hold Steady and the Killers dished up, irony-free and with wildly varying degrees of success, the major-chord ideals of bygone Bruce: anonymous train-track towns, idealized teenage love and the abandonment of same, the notion of leaping into a Camaro and driving to whatever escape-slash-distraction might be nearest. Jesse Malin and Springsteen are longtime mutual admirers, and on Glitter In The Gutter, Malin indulges his inner Boss more than ever -- not necessarily via the music, which is uncorked with often soaring effervescence, but in the scenes he sets on such songs as "Black-Haired Girl" and "Prisoners In Paradise". It's telling that when Bruce himself turns up, he's called on to add emotional punch to a heartsick lament about a lost couple and a "Broken Radio". Springsteen is only the top of a stuffed cast of guests here; Ludacris albums don't have this many cameos. Ryan Adams lends frequent guitar and vocals, Jakob Dylan brings his rasp, Josh Homme and a Foo Fighter stop in. Malin aims to make a message with the VIP list, but that message is better delivered in well-built songs such as "In The Modern World" and "Aftermath", wide-open, fist-in-air trips of flight and youth, of the short-term thrills and long-term devilry of consciously, gleefully abandoned inhibitions. And if you've missed that by track 10, Malin throws in a cover of the Replacements' "Bastards Of Young" to bring you home. American rock may be fractured, but its images are as iconic as ever, and Malin knows just how to serve them up.