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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I believe in the power of rock and roll...", 28 Mar 2007
This review is from: Boys And Girls In America (Audio CD)
...that's what Craig Finn - singer and lryicist with The Hold Steady - proclaimed with preacher-like rhetoric to the heaving crowd of York Fibbers on Tuesday 20th February, 2007. Dripping with sweat and drunk on (equal parts) alcohol, air-punching guitar riffs and complete hero worship, Craig could have divulged his belief that badgers are our intellectual superiors and are just biding their time until the inevitable takeover, and we'd have all agreed with him. Woodland-based conspiracy theories aside, at that point - if we hadn't already - everyone one of us in that room also believed in the power of rock and roll.

Such is the passion and conviction of this, The Hold Steady's third album, that they'll make you believe almost anything. NME called them "classic rock'n'roll charged with the spirit of hardcore punk" (well, quite), MOJO gave them a 5/5 rating and called 'Boys & Girls In America' "the first great album of 2007", Q Magazine (who awarded the album a stingy 4/5) and 6 Music's Phil Jupitus are also huge fans of the Brooklyn quintet, whereas in that rather cramped room in York, Craig Finn described them as a band who "play bad-ass rock and roll while I just spout bollocks over the top". I would describe them as a group who make my life better with their mere existance.

Listening to their previous two albums, I get the impression that The Hold Steady have been working their way up to producing 'Boys & Girls In America' and this album is where they reach complete and utter perfection. Craig Finn's tales of being young and loaded are as wonderful as they ever were, featuring of course our favourite heroes Gideon, Charlemagne and Holly. Such acute and gorgeously phrased lyrics have as much in common with Tom Waits as they do with Alex Turner, whilst comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are not just musical, as Finn's characters are every bit as doomed and desperate as any Mary or Wendy that the Boss may care to conjure. Yet for every casualty, there's a moment of pure life affirming joy, such as 'Massive Nights', when "every song was right". Musically, it's the perfect mix of classic guitar riffage, tinkling piano and driving rhythm section. So nothing hugely revolutionary about the instrumentation then, but these guys aren't Radiohead and nor would you want them to be. They're a rock and roll band, and they rock and roll. The only thing is, they do it better than anybody else right now. Or possibly ever.

I just don't know where these guys fit in. With their flannel shirts, less than smooth complexions and, ahem, robust physiques, they're not gunning for the skinny jeaned indie pin up catagory. And for a group in their mid-30s, they may not be quite old enough to have fathered the Arctic Monkey's but they certainly qualify for cool uncle status. They are simply a hard working band; Craig Finn doesn't want to be Bono (unlike Brandon Flowers, which may prove his unfortunate downfall) and The Hold Steady have no designs on Wembley, but with their hard work now paying off, this bar room band may soon require bars as big as stadiums to keep their ever growing army of fans satisfied.

All that's left to say is buy this album. Now. It will make you're life that much better.
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Location: UK

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