As you might expect from a bunch of Springsteen-loving misfits, Stay Positive is delivered with a generous amount of their now trademark skewed cynicism.
Rating: 8 / 10
Edwin McFee, 16 Jul 2008
Everyone’s favourite E Street Band worshipping barroom rockers The Hold Steady’s fourth record sees the quartet at their most bruised, battered and boozed up. Thankfully, on Stay Positive, that combination of Bs has resulted in their most vital batch of songs to date. No band seems able to capture the romance of being an American reject better than Craig Finn’s boys, and they do it again here. This is their best and most musically eclectic album yet, employing all manner of instruments, from harpsichords (‘One For The Cutters’) to Frampton-esque talk-boxes (‘Joke About Jamaica’) to flesh out their colourful tales of fist-fights and debauched nights.
As you might expect from a bunch of Springsteen-loving misfits, Stay Positive is delivered with a generous amount of their now trademark skewed cynicism. But don’t let the poker faces put you off. The band’s charm lies in their ability to lift the spirits, and this record does just that. Without wanting to sound too much like a cornball, in between the odd hair metal guitar solo (try ‘Lord, I’m Discouraged’ for size) the songs on Stay Positive are sublimely uplifting. They make you feel that, after enduring a lifetime of bands letting you down, maybe, just maybe, we can put our faith in The Hold Steady’s church of noise.
Key Track: ‘Stay Positive’