The Hold Steady
Boys And Girls In America
I really had a lot reservations about reviewing this album. I listened to the album 4 times in row before writing the review. I have to say that I don't like anything else that they've made. Craig Finn's voice really is an aquired taste and at times seems to lack emotion. There is also something really fun about it at the same time and I can't quite pinpoint what it is. His lyrics are nostalgic, witty, and sometimes just downright goofy. There times when you feel like drinking on a hot summers night among friends and other times when you feel driving along America's heartland. That feeling is both in the lyrics and the music, which I must say is the albums saving grace. Boys And Girls In America sounds like the lovechild of Bachman Turner Overdrive and Bruce Springsteen. It's both poetic and senseless, meaningless and relevant.
I should point out that what initially got me interested in checking this album out was a free track that eMusic.com had available aptly named "Boys And Girls In America" which happens to not be on the album. It is a very good song and a definite attention grabber and it has some of Finn's best singing on it. Most of the songs relate to past times that involve partying, drinking, one night stands, and rejection. The album starts with "Stuck Between The Stations" which instrumentally is a fantastic song but Finn's voice doesn't really seem fit this song but somehow his storytelling style makes it tolerable. A lot of this album follows the same pattern but one of the things about this album is that THS always seem to throw in that one thing into each song that makes you remember it and want to listen to it again. Even the hapless ballad "First Night" which seems to have multiple meanings (which isn't always a bad things), doesn't fit Finn's voice at all, and seems to lack emotion finds a way to pull in about halfway through the song when it breaks down into this amazing orchestral bridge and goes into a rockin chorus that leads quite into the second part of the album. Every song seems to have at least a few good hooks and some stellar piano parts but they sometimes try to do too much like in "Chill Out" where the additional vocalists in the song actually make it worse. Songs where THS don't try to do to much and just rock out and sing about drinking is when they are at their best. Craig Finn definitely isn't for everyone but if you want a fun album that doesn't require too much concentration or emotion than this is it for you. The hype surrounding this album is undeserving, it's a good album but not life-changing. I must also point out that there are 2 additional tracks, "Girls Like Status" and "Arms And Hearts", which are available on iTunes which definitely worth the $1.98 to download.
Key Tracks: Party Pit, Southtown Girls, Citrus, Hot Soft Light, You Can Make Like You
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The Hold Steady