NO!: THE HOLD STEADY (#502, JUL 10 2009).
If I'd ever gotten around to writing up my top albums of 2008, the Hold Steady's Stay Positive would've been their second-straight #1. Though not as instantly enthralling and masterwork-level as their previous effort, it was a hugely engaging, progressive step for the band and a victory lap of sorts after the success of Boys and Girls in America. The opener, "Constructive Summer," is the most viscerally inspiring song I've heard in years, while the title track is the band's salute to its scene and its fans, and the positive rage that fuels them both. Elsewhere they add some new flourishes to their sound, particularly on "Navy Sheets."
This song is very much in the classic Hold Steady mold, launching with competing guitar and piano lines and giving Craig Finn's poetry some room to stretch; "If I cross myself when I cum/would you maybe receive me?" is one of those lines that implicates love, lust, religion and insecurity the way few other songwriters ever have. I was particularly excited to catch it live because it's one of the songs from Stay Positive that I didn't react strongly to at first, but that's grown on me a lot since the record came out and we saw them last.
Posted by Aaron S. Veenstra ::: 2009:07:29:08:00