The Hold Steady, "Stay Positive" (Vagrant Records, July 2008)
April 9, 2009
The Hold Steady stay true to their namesake on their fourth full-length release, “Stay Positive,” bringing the same melodic rock tunes fans are used to from 2005’s “Separation Sunday” and 2006’s “Boys and Girls in America.”
Singer Craig Finn actually calls out the band’s modus operandi in the first 30 seconds of the new album when he belts, “our songs are sing-along songs.”
Indeed, it’s hard not to get stirred into some sort of impromptu karaoke frenzy during the chorus of “Sequestered in Memphis” and the “oh-woah-ho” chants of the album’s title track.
Finn’s tales of relationships, disillusion and substance abuse are engrossing listens once again, and ” while the production on the album is disappointingly slicker than their previous efforts ” Tad Kubler’s buzz-saw guitar on “Constructive Summer” and “Ask Her for Adderall” sounds brash as ever.
Even with The Hold Steady’s largely familiar moves on “Stay Positive,” the quintet manages to add a few new spices to mix with an unusual and lively harpsichord in “One for the Cutters” and what sounds very much like a crosscut saw played with a violin bow in “Both Crosses.”
But when everything is said and done, the song remains the same for The Hold Steady on “Stay Positive.”
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Like their previous efforts, the album is a compilation of anthems for the thinking ” albeit heartbroken and booze-soaked ” men and women in America.