Top positive review
6 of 6 people found this helpful
Big tunes and riffs back but a production let down
on 27 March 2014
I have listened to this album perhaps 100 times, which is a compliment in itself to its quality.
The good news is that the big tunes of their Boys and Girls in America are back with a vengeance. For sometime, I thought that Teeth Dreams paled in comparison to the mighty Separation Sunday and lagged someway behind the brilliant Boys and Girls in America too, feeling that the brilliant lyrics were somewhat less so and the production of Teeth Dreams made a sort of "guitar soup", weakening those crunchy Kubler riffs. Craig Finn's voice is also pushed back to make it sound like more conventional, 'popular' singers presumably. Now, I think that these stories resonate and though the startling, rebellious Christian imagery is missing, the lyrics hold together as a whole rather better than those on the last two albums. As for the 'soup' it's turned out to be energy giving, leaving the listener fired up.
Craig Finn IS up there with Patterson Hood as greatest songwriter of his generation for Separation... and Boys and Girls.... The track Big Cig would have been the best fit from Teeth Dreams on Boys and Girls in America. It's the one most like their style on those albums but misses something of the sheer presence of the Boys and Girls tracks. More specifically, the presence the Hold Steady miss is that of Franz Nicolay. Listening again to Boys and Girls In America, it's illuminating to note how many of the moments that raise the hair on the back of the neck are supplied by Nicolay's piano and organ fills. Unfortunately for Nicolay, he needs the Hold Steady more than they need him.
Part of the pleasure of a Hold Steady album comes from the 30, 40, 50 plays that bring the words and motivations through. Runner's High and On With the Business on Teeth Dreams illustrate wordplay that while not quite as blazing as before still offer many rewards, though reaching them can be helped by reading the texts.
Despite the reservations compared to their peak albums, at least two of which were genius, it's very hard not to enjoy this album, as most songs have that welcome and familiar sense of the euphoric and are infectious with ringing riffs from guitarist Tad Kubler. The draggy final couple are not the best note to end on though.