Posts Tagged ‘Stay Positive’

Heaven Is Whenever: A Review

Craig Finn, lead singer and front man for The Hold Steady, is not a fan of irony. He likes to sing songs with clear, straightforward* narratives about drinking and partying, usually in the Midwest. On the latest Hold Steady album, Heaven Is Whenever (released last week), though, Finn is playing the role of relaxed elder statesman. He’s still dealing with mundane predicaments and inscrutable women, but this record has a more laid-back feel than Stay Positive, Boys and Girls in America, or Separation Sunday. When news came out that the band’s keyboardist, Franz Nicolay, was leaving the band for this album, Finn made some noise by saying it would be “less anthemic” as a result.

*Well, not always straightforward. It’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what’s going on in his songs, but that’s never because he’s being obtuse, but because his songs and albums are so dense with characters and events that keeping track of them all can be slightly confusing.

In actuality, Heaven Is Whenever occupies a weird middle ground between evolution and fidelity: It doesn’t sound that much different from previous Hold Steady albums, but it does sound less anthemic than most. It’s not the kind of polarizing departure that might alienate some fans, but it doesn’t have the same immediate pull that The Hold Steady’s last two albums did. Continue reading