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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever: B

The most important thing to know about Heaven Is Whenever is that, for the album, The Hold Steady added a new guitarist. This one detail is the album’s greatest hindrance by far. Craig Finn and the gang do create some catchy melodies with their new album, but that extra density makes everything sound heavy and hulking. Songs like “Hurricane J” and “Rock Problems” are pretty good songwriting achievements, but they are dragged down by a baseness that roots them into sonic muck and certainly don’t do any favors for Finn’s erudite rambling vocal style. Heaven Is Whenever does display a good lot of the songwriting flair that has become expected from the band at this point in their career, which is probably why the album’s reception has been mixed rather than wholly negative. In the case of the album, some key element isn’t so much missing as one is too prevalent and is suffocating everything around it. For the first time The Hold Steady sound complacent and, at times, even bored, and anyone who knows punk can tell you where anyone can shove that kind of mindset.


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