May 26, 2008

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (2008)

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."


Nightrain said...

I already have my tickets... who's coming with me?

The Hold Steady
Tuesday, Jul 29, 2008 8:00 PM
San Francisco, CA

awmercy said...

Those first two tracks are pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

I hope publications with some legitimacy have the balls to trash this album as it so justly deserves.

"You came into the ER drinking gin from a jam jar/ And the nurse is making jokes about the ER being like an after-bar"

Now we get this:

"I gotta a lot of old friends that are getting back in touch / And it’s good, good feeling, yeah it feels pretty good"

I know, Pitchfork gave their last record 9.4, so this one's gotta be good, right?

I've been a fan since Lifter Puller. HATING this record.

Nightrain said...

Fair enough. Agree to disagree.

Thanks for commenting.

Nightrain said...

Let me just say this again: I fucking love this album.

Boom! There you have it.

awmercy said...

Not that it matters, but it looks like the boys over Pitchfork liked it too.

awmercy said...

I just got my hard copy of the album in the mail today and it has a sweet three song bonus track on it.