Rick Springfield is remembered by most as a teen heartthrob, soap actor, and the man behind the monster 1981 hit, “Jessie’s Girl”. Girls swooned, boys guffawed, and Springfield became a huge pop success seemingly overnight. Fast-forward three decades and Rick is back (he never actually left) with studio album 14, “Songs for the End of the World”.
These days when “Jessie’s Girl” comes on the radio, women still swoon with fond memories, and men smile secretly as they have to keep this guilty pleasure on the down-low. At 63, Rick still looks about the same, and his music is as fresh, energetic and melodic as it was with the release of 1981’s multi-platinum selling, “Working Class Dog”. Springfield had already been record albums for a decade at that point, but this would prove to be the breakout record for the Australian singer.
Springfield has released numerous albums since his 8os heyday, and all have shown his propensity for crafting feel-good toe-tappers and poignant ballads. “Songs for the End of the World” continues along those lines, and is arguably one of his strongest efforts in years.
Rick co-produced and co-wrote the album with bassist Matt Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Elton John).
The album kicks off with the modernish opener, “Wide Awake”, which has a propulsive melody and a hooky anthemic chorus. “Our Ship’s Sinking” is as infectious as any song Springfield’s ever recorded, including his early 80s chart-topping hits. It is more addictive than any of the sonic tripe on pop radio these days.
While Dr. Oz attributed “I Hate Myself” as a song chronicling Springfield’s long bout with depression, the track is an upbeat and a hands-over-head clap-along tribute to self-loathing. Rick had fans team up to chant background on the chorus. Last week in New York City, Springfield even hijacked the subway, along with fans, to perform a live acoustic version of the song which can be seen in the video below.
“You & Me” is a love song for anyone who has been through the fire and triumphed together, as Rick has done with his wife of nearly 30 years, Barbara Porter.
Springfield has shown a propensity for writing songs named after people, and this album is no different, with exceptional tracks like, “Gabriel” and “Joshua”. The former is driven by warm acoustic guitars and showcases Rick’s great sense of melody and emotive vocal talents. The latter, which is written for his son, embraces his 80s footprint: Great lyrics and a liquid sugar chorus, make this a gem.
“A Sign of Life” hits with energetic power chords and a verse steeped in groove, which segues into another huge chorus. Rick asks for a sign of life, while his new album shows fans, that even in his 60s, he is still full of life and not slowing down.
If one thinks Rick’s sense of humor may have been tamed after 40 years in the music business, check out the rollicking “Love Screws Me Up”. Still the album is not all about upbeat arena tracks and sweet ballads. Springfield finds a darker mood on “I Found You” which tells the tale of finding a light in the darkness.
In all, “Songs for the End of the World” is a muscular and energetic piece of guitar and melody driven, rocking power-pop, as strong as anything Springfield has ever recorded. Those who thought his career started and ended with “Jessie’s Girl” simply haven’t been paying attention, and in the process, have cheated themselves out of a treasure of great music.
If you love hooky pop-rock then you should grab “Songs for the End of the World”. Fans who haven’t listened since Springfield’s 80s work need to return to the fold for this record.