This Week's Album (23-29 January 2011)


2. Feb. 2012, 15:24


Being as the album only came out a couple of weeks ago, it should come as no surprise that I had to stump up a little more than 25p this time. Excited at the prospect of what I assumed would basically be a new Hold Steady record, I nipped over to Spillers and picked this up for £8.99.

But Craig Finn's gone a bit soft with this album. The Hold Steady can usually be relied upon to deliver the crunchy-riff goods, but I guess that's not the singer's department because this is much more laid-back. And it's good! Opener 'Apollo Bay' is a five minute, slow-burning groove - one of those songs that should be really boring, but isn't. My personal favourite is 'Rented Room', which builds and builds and gradually becomes totally frickin' awesome. It reminds a little bit of early Hold Steady tracks like 'Certain Songs' and 'Killer Parties'.

There's a lot about God on this album. I mean, Craig Finn's always sung about religion, but not this...sincerely. Take 'Cattle & The Creeping Things' from The Hold Steady's second album Separation Sunday:

"I guess I heard about original sin,
I heard the dude blamed the chick,
I heard the chick blamed the snake,
I heard they were naked when they got busted,
I heard things ain't been the same since."

Now compare that with this album's 'New Friend Jesus', which sounds uncomfortably like a Sunday school singalong:

"Everybody's saying that the lights don't shine,
But the lights shine down on me,
I've got a new friend and my new friend's name is Jesus."

Maybe Finn's found God, but maybe I'm just being a bit too literal. After all, that same song does feature this hilarious couplet:

"People say we suck at sports but they don't understand,
It's hard to catch with holes right through your hands."

He's still got it. In fact, I reckon this album is probably better than the last couple of Hold Steady albums. They had the riffs, but this has a bit more substance.
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