Courtesy of the artist
The Hold Steady's latest album, Stay Positive experiments with all sorts of audio toys, like a vocal talkback box.
"It's really an album about whether rock and roll will save you," says music critic Lizzy Goodman (Blender) of Stay Positive, the new CD from The Hold Steady.
Goodman, who professes an "absolute, mad love" for The Hold Steady, says Stay Positive is sonically more experimental than their previous album, Boys and Girls in America. "There are zero songs that have a party jam theme," she says, and the group uses all sorts of audio toys, like a vocal talkback box. "They've never been a toy band before," says Goodman.
The group's vocalist, Craig Finn, states the album's theme right off the bat in the song, "Collective Summer" — "Let this be my annual reminder that we can all be something bigger." Not only does the theme musically control the new work, but it has apparently taken hold in the band's real-life as well, Goodman says. The members have cut down on their relentless partying, and Finn himself has taken to jogging four miles a day.
Goodman says The Hold Steady are very self-conscious, which can be alienating to people who don't get the joke. If they seem detached, it's because they are so aware of their musical influences, she says: "They're rock fans, almost more than they are rock stars, so they tell you who their influences are."