Bruce Springsteen. ''Born in the U.S.A.'' (CBS Records 38653) - Listen to this album and you'll get the idea that Bruce is trying to tell us something:
* In the title cut, an unemployed Vietnam veteran feels his life slither away ''in the shadow of the penitentiary.''
* A highway construction worker in the song ''Working on the Highway'' runs off with a teen-age girlfriend and ends up doing the same work on the ''Charlotte County road gang.''
* A workingman loses his job in ''Downbound Train'' and the pressures of unemployment destroy his marriage.
This album is a crisp, wide-angle portrait of a generation of working-class America still quivering from the shock of Vietnam and the disappointments of a fickle economy. At the same time it is a proud, vibrant, country infused rock album with music that understates the strong emotions of the lyrics.
The songs here are shorter, more homespun than previous Springsteen offerings. There aren't any of the long street anthems of ''Jungleland'' fame. But there is that same proud Springsteen delivery - especially in ''Cover Me'' and ''No Surrender.''
Maybe Springsteen's trying - in depicting working-class troubles - to tell us something we already know. But in the process, he has created a throbbing but sensitive rock album.