The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

Pitchfork 76

Read Daniel Felsenthal’s review of the album.

Wed Feb 24 06:00:00 GMT 2021

The Guardian 0

(Positive Jams)
The Brooklyn-based rockers add a splash of brass to their everyman stylings on this lyrical eighth album

Given Craig Finn’s powerful depictions of the minor triumphs and tragedies of normal working Americans in his lyrics, dog-whistle Springsteen comparisons – “blue-collar rock”, say – have inevitably followed Brooklyn-based six-piece the Hold Steady and their take on the barroom-rock stylings of Sire-era Replacements over a near-20-year career. Their eighth album hardly goes out of its way to discourage them. If anything, it doubles down on E Street Band-isms, largely thanks to regular interventions from their newly acquired horn section, Stuart Bogie and Jordan McLean, both of whom are alumni of US Afrobeat collective Antibalas.

The splashes of brass make for a good fit, though: recent single Family Farm is an engaging meditation on mental health, and includes a shoutout to a Van Halen ringtone, with an air of fist-punching euphoria. Unpleasant Breakfast benefits from an inspired change of gear. The quieter songs don’t always burn so brightly. Here, there can be a fine line between balladry and pedestrianism, but the listener is never far away from a killer lyric, such as “she had the aura of an angel, but she had a couple of problems/ I guess the big one is that she’s someone else’s wife” on opener The Feelers.

Continue reading...

Sun Feb 21 13:00:01 GMT 2021