Posted by: Andy | July 16, 2008

cd review: Hold Steady – Stay Positive

Finally, a “good” good album!

This year needed something, as I’ve been moderately disappointed by the offerings thus far.

Yes, you guessed it, this is a “positive” review.  Har har.  Don’t get carried away though – it’s not the best thing since sliced butter (mmmmmm…lard), nor is it their best work yet, but it is very good.  I’d rank it around the second album (with my rankings being that the second was a bit better than the first, and the third was debateably better than the second).

With a band this …predictable (?) it’s hard to just throw judgments out there and have them mean anything, at least for me.  The new single (which you can hear on their myspace page) might not be the best indicator because, honestly, when I heard it on the radio it kind of annoyed me with all the repitition of the chorus.  However, it all blends nicely in the album context.

Sound-wise, it’s got the fun and energy of the third album mixed with the grittiness and dreariness of the first.  If you thought you couldn’t have dreary & fun at the same time…you were wrong!  It also makes me think of truck stops for some reason.  I haven’t had a chance to go through the lyrics yet…so maybe there are some truck stops in there I’ve just been picking up on and storing in my subconscious.

We get the return of Charlemagne and some of the other “classic” Hold Steady characters as well.  One of these days I’m going to have to go through all the lyrics and actually track down these characters’ stories in full…or maybe someone out there on the magic web has done it for me already!  I suppose I should look.  OK nothing on the first page, and I’m lazy, so maybe I’ll dig more later.

So, anyway…FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS.  If you dig the other albums, definitely pick this up.  Otherwise, check them out and maybe you’ll like it…they definitely have a specific style,  and you may love it (like me) or be driven crazy by it (like Jen).

Argh, I just found out that the Australian versions of the first 3 albums have bonus tracks…I really hope they put out an EP with all of those. /annoyed



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