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The Hold Steady: The Opposite Of Love Is Indifference

Bad dreams

Bad dreams

If I hadn’t once loved them so much, I would have given up on the Hold Steady’s new album Teeth Dreams last week, early last week. This is Hold Steady’s sixth album and it is about here that the entire deal falls apart.

The Hold Steady’s problem is that they haven’t written any good songs for Teeth Dreams. OK, sure, the lyric nails it here and there, and the sonic blasts of electric guitar are the real deal. But after that… nothing. While the reviews have been positive that doesn’t mean a thing, Hold Steady has the loquacious wordiness writers might be bgiven to like. Plus it has a blue collar allure, a middle America aura and of course Craig Finn who looks more like Elvis Costello than David Le Roth.

But the album is a disaster area -or, if that’s too strong, it is a bland out. Not the worst album you’ll ever hear. “Spinners” and “Wait Awhile” stand up to repeated listening with a smile, nothing will ever make “Oaks” more than an iffy proposition and at over nine minutes less than winningly so.

Might these songs come alive on stage? Sure, I would assume they do. The Hold Steady aren’t the best live band either unless you’re a member of their dwindling cult base, but they are fun live and if they are all about the centerpiece, he is a good one. But I can’t love em any more, all I can do is shrug.

Listening to the all too typical “Runner’s High” your ear is almost begging for a melody you can remember and not yet another ringing guitar hook. Where is the song here? Tempo changes don’t a song make. My bet is this is it for Hold Steady. Finn’s solo album was much better that the two Hold Steady albums surrounding it on either side. The sonic bang bang of the band, the tightness, groove, whatever, can not replace the lack of anything approaching a memorable song. Yeah, I overreacted when I gave it a “D+” last week. It’s more like a “C+”. Just a bland disappointing album by a band running out of time.

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