Monday, March 10, 2008
2.) Boys and Girls in America - The Hold Steady (ST. PATTY'S 2008)
Boys and Girls in America
The Hold Steady
SCQ Rating: 85%
Acclaimed lyricist/singer Craig Finn has crafted three album’s worth of characters who impulsively drink, kiss, gamble on the impossible, skirt religion, blow off parental authority, do a ton of drugs and learn about life without necessarily learning from it. During these turbulent highs then lows of boys and girls, I can’t help but think The Hold Steady are making music to be played during each of those parties, make-outs and life lessons. I’m sure eternal dork Finn wishes his records were around when he was a depressed teen. Surrounded by a band that resembles Springsteen’s E Street Band back when Bruce let them play, The Hold Steady is considered the best bar band in America for good reason, with classic rock riffs, gorgeous piano and lyrics that justify any drunken desires.
“Now we just need something to celebrate/I wanna open some bottles up,” Finn sings on ‘Same Kooks’, while any number of quotables from Boys and Girls… confetti-littered liner notes turn to drinking when the pulse starts racing. That the band can keep up with Finn’s nasally speak-singing and compliment his lyrical strength with flawless arrangements make this album unparalleled as a party album, and unlikely to be successfully covered by anyone else. The two slow-burners on disc are equally majestic; ‘First Night’ is a piano-led number for the boozed up blues that rises from its ashtray for a sensational close of guitar and strings, while Finn chants “when they kiss they spit white noise”. The second, ‘Citrus’, is all acoustic for a Saturday sunset; romanticizing the souls who gather at local taverns and new lovers who make it out at closing time.
A record that doesn’t waste a word or note, Boys and Girls in America was made for day-long celebrations like St. Patrick’s Day, where for twelve or so hours, we all have a role to play in Finn’s twisted tales. A ‘Massive Night’, if nothing more.