Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rocksteady and Bebop

(Rocksteady was the rhino, Bebop was the warthog.)

Rocktober belongs to The Hold Steady. The new album, Boys and Girls in America hasn't got a local release yet but Polyester Records have it on import, of course. Cause they're great, that's why.

Last year's album, Separation Sunday was pretty damn good. Craig Finn's lyrics were parts religious - "I guess I heard about original sin/I heard the dude blamed the chick/I heard the chick blamed the snake" - and parts profane - "I ain't never been with your little hoodrat friend" - half-spoken, half-sung on top of big riffs and rocking full-bore rhythms. This was a logical progression from their patchy debut, Almost Killed Me, recently re-released here.

No seismic changes, then, for Boys and Girls in America, but this is the album where it all ties together. The twine, as pinpointed in pitchfork's panegyric (9.4!) is the keyboard. Stevie Nix, the best track on the last album, had that weird slow piano break in the middle; initially incongruous but eventually glorious. Every track on the new album, though, has piano/organ/keys all over it, in turns through the back and at the front, but fitting in everywhere. And in general the arrangments just have more of everything, guitars, backing vocals.

So here's a track. Southtown Girls is the anthemic closer, ticking all the boxes - big hooky chorus, solos for everyone, epic length (well, the longest on the album at 5:10). I'd love to see this live.

[MP3 - 7MB] The Hold Steady - Southtown Girls