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The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (2008)

June 10, 2008

‘The Hold Steady’ are a band I only really got into with the success of their last album ‘Boys and Girls in America’ which was a fantastic showcase of their talents and great gateway that led me into more of their older stuff which is also fantastic. ‘Stay Positive’ their newest full length echoes the classic rock and roll sound of their earlier work but manages to stay fresh with some subtle and not so subtle changes, all in all it’s a fantastic album.

The most striking change from their earlier work is a shift in lyrical topics. While Craig Finn still drunkenly sing speaks lyrics about girls, parties and drinking are still abound in many songs, others take on some different topics and issues. ‘One for The Cutters’ tells the story of a girl becoming involved with a would be murder suspect and her involvement with the court case. Not only are the lyrics here a bit different the usual rock and roll formula is changed up with the inclusion of a harpsichord (I had to look this instrument up to be honest) and some eerie production effects. It doesn’t stray too far from ‘The Hold Steady’s usual sound but it’s enough to be interesting and changes like this are present throughout the album, but of course it still fucking rocks hard.

The title track contains some of the best lyrics Finn has probably ever written, focusing on the positives of our modern day music scenes and the importance of music in many people’s lives. He shouts ‘cause the kids at their shows, they’ll have kids of their own the sing-a-long songs’ll be our scriptures’ over power chords and organ keys until the it erupts into a cascade of guitars and backup vocals. The rest of the album is similar in that it’s really quite fantastic, it’s as least as good as their previous work but I’d say it’s too early to declare it my favourite album of theirs. Although, come the end of the year it could be up there. Also, the guitar solo in ‘Joke about Jamaica’ is fucking sweet. If you’ve never listened to this band (you should!) this is a good place to start.

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (2008)

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