First off I should say that I'm a pretty big fan of Springsteen, and my opinion of this album was formed after having listened to, and grown attached to his best known works such as Born to Run, the River, Darkness on the Edge of Town etc. However I think my opinion is just as relevant to people who know little of the great man's music as it is to the cognoscenti.
As the other reviews say this is the first album from the boss & the E street band, and it's got the same early sound which as The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, and which is lost in the production of Born to Run. The band incidentaly are truly excellent throughout the album, from the funky style of It's hard to be a saint in the city to the urgency of Lost in the Flood.
I strongly disagree with those who criticise the album for having simple, or bad lyrics. I think the songs have the classic springsteen mix of poetry and gritty realism as any of his finest works, you've really got to be looking for weaknesses to find any bad points, rather than enjoying the beauty of songs like Spirits in the Night of It's hard to be a saint.
As for the songs, the pick of the bunch for me is Lost in the Flood! If you're a fan of his urban epics, à la Jungleland or Born to Run then this song is simply awesome! The ultimate version of this is on the Hammersmith '75 live CD, it's so powerful it's incredible. Also It's Hard to be a Saint in the City, Spirit in the Night, Blinded by the Light and Grown' Up are the other real standouts, and are among my favourite Springsteen songs.
In summary, I would say if you like anything off Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, anything before Born in the USA or rock music in general then this album really is essential listening!