Frenchkiss Records [Release date 16.08.19]
Whilst frontman Carif Finn has been busy releasing a trilogy of solo albums, the Hold Steady have been mainly seen in the live arena, until this new album ‘Thrashing Through Passion’ was announced earlier this year. The band’s last album was 2014’s ‘Teeth Dreams’ and it also marks the return of piano/keys player Franz Nikolay who left the band in 2010, re-joining them in 2016.
The album itself consists of five previously released digital only songs (all released in the past couple of years) and five newly recorded songs. Of the new songs (which make up the first half of the album), ‘Denver Haircut’ is a classic upbeat Hold Steady tune, complete with ironic and at times, darkly comic, lyrics sung in his own imitable style by Craig Finn. ‘You Did Good Kid’ is another rocking roller, whilst ‘Blackout Sam’ is a gentler song and a little calm after the hectic songs preceding it. The other two new songs ‘Epaulets’ and ‘Traditional Village’ are passable and likely to grow on the listener after subsequent listens. The latter shows the band’s love of all things Bruce Springsteen.
‘Entitlement Crew’ (how can you not like a song that mentions a Pillsbury bake-off?!) kicks off the previously released songs, which along with ‘T-Shirt Tux’ features some nifty swinging horns and plenty of organ/keys. ‘The Stove & the Toaster’ is great fun, it is like a Coen brothers movie yet to be made. Again the band nail it with the horns, piano and just the right amount of guitar.
Having Franz Nikolay back in the band has certainly given the songs that extra bit of magic in the piano and keys department, along with the band back making music for fun first and foremost. So good to have the Hold Steady back making music and this six-piece version of the band is making musical magic. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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