Sunday, December 27, 2009

Music Decade List #6: The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls In America (2006)

Boys and Girls In America has everything you could want in a Hold Steady album but has the added benefit of an expanded, well-rounded sound. Craig Finn's story songs about fuck ups, children of suburbia, and addicts are still there, whether it be about compulsive gambling ('Chips Ahoy') or hooking up with other drug causalities ('Chillout Tent'). Here they have the added benefit of Franz Nicolay's keyboards, which cannot be understated, that give the record much more of a Springsteen feel. The piano on the opener, 'Stuck Between Stations' and the organ on 'Chips Ahoy' gives those songs an anthemic quality that would have gone missing without them. The reason for this, whether it be the keyboards, the sing along choruses, or the Thin Lizzy-esque riffs and solos carry these songs beyond anything that was on the band's first two albums. 'Massive Night' and 'Hot Soft Light' have catchy riffs and chorus that really propel Finn's lyrics being just stream of consciousness. The songs here don't have the same depth and intertwined nature of Separation Sunday but they make up for in their new musical power. That isn't to say the album is all hooks and choruses, as 'Citrus' and 'First Night' show a more contemplative side with the band knowing where to reign it in. It's an album that sums up everything good about what The Hold Steady are doing and it shows a band that truly loves what they do.

No comments: