The Hold Steady: “Heaven is Whenever”
My brief review of The Hold Steady’s Heaven is Whenever is posted at CT. I join most of the rest of the music-listening world in being fairly disappointed with this one. This is a band that’s made two five-star classics in my book– Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America— and another two albums that aren’t too far behind, but this new one feels slight and transitional. Interestingly, it’s the least Hold Steady-ish numbers– the ones that experiment with their arrangements and explore new influences– that excite me most; these songs suggest that the band still has a lot of life left in them, whereas the typical Hold Steady anthems are beginning to feel stagnant, something that isn’t helped by Craig Finn’s lyrics, which just don’t carry the weight that they usually do here. It’s hardly a waste, but it is their first album yet to be anything less than stellar.