I wanted to like this album, but the fellas down at Sony aren’t making it easy for me. Magic is The Boss’s first album with the E Street Band since 2001’s cathartic The Rising, but they’re not credited anywhere on the outside of the CD? OK, fine, I’ll chalk that up to a young and stupid design intern. But what’s with the production? After I brought the disc home and imported it to my iPod, I went for a drive—which is the proper way to first listen to a new Springsteen album. As the album began to play, I had to wonder if my iPod was dying. The sound was over-compressed, distorted and damn-near unlistenable. A quick listen to the actual CD confirmed it: the album is mastered so loudly that the instruments and vocals are mashed together into a muddled mess. There’s no dynamic range on this album at all; it’s just loud. While the songs are well-written and well-performed, the album is downright brutal on even my tinnitus-addled ears, and extremely difficult to listen to. I really wish this trend of mastering albums on 11 would stop.