Album review: THE HOLD STEADY – Open Door Policy

THE HOLD STEADY – Open Door Policy

Thirty Tigers [Release date 19.02.21]

The Hold Steady return to action with eighth album which as vocalist Craig Fin explains – “This album was written and almost entirely recorded before the pandemic started, but the songs and stories explore power, wealth, mental health, technology, capitalism, consumerism, and survival – issues which have compounded in 2020.”

The first single released off the album, ‘Family Farm’, is a typical piano led Hold Steady romp. I mean how can you not like a song that name checks Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’?! ‘Unpleasant Breakfast’ could quite possibly put you off your breakfast when listening to a certain line… The song’s main character works in a haunted hotel and the band provide some suitably spooky backing vocals on the chorus, making it one of the album’s stand outs.

Elsewhere on the album ‘Spices’ allows Craig Finn to weave a tale with the lyrics. One thing you can guarantee with the lyrics on a Hold Steady album is plenty of weird tales, as the aforementioned ‘Spices’ and ‘Lanyards’ highlight.

With Franz Nicolay firmly back in the line-up his piano and keyboard runs light up the music, plus good to have the odd blast of horns now and then to keep the band’s broad soundscape going.

Some bands this far into their musical adventures often run out of steam lyric wise or recycle previous songs, not so the Hold Steady who sound as fresh and enjoyable as they did when they first started out. One of 2021’s ‘must have’ albums. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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