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July 14, 2008 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-07-14

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Monday, July 14, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

From Page 9
Strummer" as it laments long-gone
summer days spent drinking whis-
key and ditching detention. As the
song waxes nostalgic about a time
long past, it also signals a subtle
progression from the hard-rocking
songs that defined theband's youth
to the playful musical experimen-
tation which will characterize
the band's future. Following this
breakneck-speed opener, every
succeeding song on "Stay Positive"

has its own distinct feel and no cut
sounds rehashed or hastily thrown
While the album is wholly origi-
nal and represents a progressive
step forward for the band, this does
not stop its lead lyricist from infus-
ing his songs with a mishmash
of allusions to previous albums.
The title track - its very name an
allusion to the band's first album
"Almost Killed Me" - is filled to
the brim with casual references to
the band's previous three albums.
Lyrically referencing his previous-
ly released tracks "Hornets! Hor-

nets!" and "Massive Nights," Finn
holds a miniature reunion within
his own song, culminating with
the chorus where he repeatedly
belts, "We gotta stay positive!" .
The sincere cut titled "Both
Crosses" is the slowest paced
- and arguably best - offering
on this diverse album. As the title
suggests, the song centers on both
religious discovery and disillu-
sionment and is carried over a sea
of swift acoustic strums. Referenc-
ing Catholic schoolgirls, Judas and
crucifixion, the track's overlying
message remains cryptic but the

song itself is stunningly beautiful.
On one of the album's latter tracks
"Joke in Jamaica," a series of strong
keyboard strokes highlight Finn's
dark outlook about his younger
partying days spent in the Twin
Cities. He croons solemnly, "Back
then it was beautiful / The boys
were sweet and musical /The laser
lights looked mystical / Messed
up stuff felt magical." Lamenting
the easy lays and "c-c-c-c-cocaine
blues" of his youth, Finn paints
the story with a surprisingly dark
brush - a first for a singer who
often revels in his glory days.

This invertible relationship can
sum up the Hold Steady's newest
musical endeavor. While the good
ol' boys from Minneapolis still
have a knack for creating Spring-
steen-esque chords sprinkled with
keyboard notes and rambunc-
tious storytelling, they have also
matured creatively as they solidify
their band's distinctive sound. On
its newest effort "Stay Positive,"
the Hold Steady has demonstrated
both its willingness to adapt and
its ability to churn out powerful
bar-jam chords without growing



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