As you may have heard, the new Hold Steady record, Stay Positive, is now streaming on their MySpace page. I got some mp3s of it over the weekend though so I’ve listened to it a few times by now.
I have been quoted as saying that if they made an entire record that sounded as good as “Sequestered In Memphis,” then they’d be the first band I can think of to put out two completely perfect albums in a row. That’s a lot to live up to. Boys And Girls In America was an absolutely incredible album. Flawless from beginning to end. Following up a record like that is not an easy task.
Unfortunately, Stay Positive falls a bit short. It is a great album. Without a doubt, it’ll be on my top 25 for 2008 list, but it just can’t quite touch Boys And Girls In America. There are some really great songs on it and Craig Finn’s storytelling and vocals are exactly where you’d expect and want them to be. The music gets a little weird at times though. I swear that when the third track, “One For Cutters,” came on, I thought that I had just crashed my car through a renaissance fair. It’s not bad, it’s just…unexpected and a bit different. And “Navy Sheets,” has some weird, almost carnival-like, almost The Anniversary-like, keyboards going on. It makes the song stand out and they give you something to grab onto, but it definitely hits you awkwardly the first time you hear it.
I think that this album will grow on me a bit more, but I can’t see it ever measuring up to Boys And Girls In America.
Check it out though. When it’s released, it’ll definitely be worth a purchase.