[Vagrant Records; 14/07/2008]
The Hold Steady's music evolves in a genre that a lot of people would generally pass off. However, their music is so strong that it draws listeners from a wide array of communities. This is what all good music does and The Hold Steady are one of the few artists in the modern day to achieve this.
The band's fourth album, Stay Positive, is once again an affair of catchy rhythms and Craig Finn's straight-to-the-point lyrical topics. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries who have managed to cut the same amount of records, The Hold Steady continue to refine and not decline in the art of creating.
In terms of sound, The Hold Steady have pilfered strands of Husker Dü circa Candy Apple Gray, with Finn transforming something a little more direct and less vague lyrically, as apposed to Bob Mould and Grant Hart. 'Sequestered In Memphis' kick starts the sing-a-longs with glib fanfare and melodic chord progressions setting the tone. 'One for the Cutters' is Finn's baby, embarking on a narrative rant about the judicial system his country employs.
The pinnacle of 'Positive definitely lies within with the double-whammy of the fist-pumping aura that is the title track, outlining Ginn's position with his personal battles. 'Magazines' comes across with lyrics that would be deemed lame if any other band had rendered them, but somehow with The Hold Steady they get away with it just as good as O.J. Simpson did!
For every lad that slobbers over Oasis and various other bands that appeal to the herd-mentality, there's an aloof kid that sits in the corner of a pub with his head-phones and Ipod that dares to get up and shake his ass to the sounds of The Hold Steady. Finn's lyrics are once again the talking point, sharing nostalgic laments, which on the back of get-up-groove instrumentation, conform as athemic. Did we ever think that such confronting and literal lyricism could throw off such a liberating energy? It's always been the case when listening to The Hold Steady's music, but now the message is loud and clear; staying positive!
By Simon K