Pour yourself a “double whiskey, coke, no ice;” put Stay Positive on the stereo; crank up the volume… Repeat, as necessary. Obviously, there are many ways to enjoy this album, and enjoy you will, but some ways seem more appropriate than others because above all other heavy-partying, hard-rocking indie rock bands, few sound more fun to “get hammered” with than The Hold Steady. The first track, “Constructive Summer,” quickly brings some serious noise, introduces the band's heavy-partying intentions, and the direction of the album, just as “Stuck Between Stations” did for Boys And Girls In America. “Our songs are sing-along songs,” quips Craig Finn—in his identifiable, not quite singing, not quite yelling manner—over Franz Nicolay’s hammering piano, and he is absolutely right! In no time you’ll be echoing thoughtful sentiments such as: “Magazines and daddy issues / I know you’re pretty pissed / I hope you still let me kiss you,” or “In bar-light she looked alright / in daylight she looked desperate.” You get the point: The Hold Steady = Amazingly awesome (and honest) lyrics. The bulk of the songs tell stories of people who rage hard, abuse (I couldn't think of a stronger word) alcohol & drugs, indulge in petty (and not so petty) criminality—you know, real life issues—but as the title track suggests, even when faced with the ugliness of humanity one must Stay Positive, and that is an outlook I can get behind, just like this album. Despite the pessimistic subject matter, one cannot help to be uplifted by these piano and organ driven (“One For The Cutters” uses a Bach-like harpsichord that sounds lifted from the 1735 Italian Concerto.) addictive, sing-along rockers, and I have nothing but love for every track on this album.
Party hard with: "Constructive Summer," "Sequestered In Memphis," and "Magazines."