3 October 2013

3rd October - The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America

Artist – Album: The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
Released:  3rd October 2006
Sounds Like: “We had some massive nights”

Taking its name from a line in Jack Kerouac’s legendary beatnik novel On the Road, Boys and Girls in America is lead-Hold-Steadier Craig Finn’s 21st century update of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty’s wild, opulent lifestyle and aimless wanderings. He tells tales of drug-fuelled, boozed up Izzy Stradlin look-alikes on road trips, where people go to festivals and OD by the stage, all backed by pumping guitars and beery choruses.

Drawing comparisons with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Thin Lizzy, their brand of stonking rock and roll may have been a little uncool in the time of fey indie and distracted electronica, but it’s difficult now to not get swept up in the barrage of exhilarating power chords. ‘Stuck Between Stations’ and ‘Chips Ahoy!’ are an engaging opening couplet, whilst ‘Same Kooks’ is a mile-a-minute thrill ride. ‘First Night’ slows the pace slightly, before building to its Arcade Fire-esque crescendo of a coda. ‘Citrus’ is the records sole acoustic jaunt, and serves as a breather before we’re treated to the “kinda sexy but… kinda creepy” ‘Chillout Tent’ and the anthemic ‘Southtown Girls’.

The lyrics are a lot more nuanced than a simple celebration of hedonism though, and maybe that’s where the Springsteen comparisons come into their own. The principle players may like to party but, like those small town heroes in The Boss’s songs, really they’re unhappy and lost and dream of escape. Holly’s “inconsolable as she can’t get high as she got on that first night”, the needy subject of ‘You Can Make Him Like You’ is mocked by the cheerful chorus, those eponymous ‘Southtown Girls’ are merited even though they “won’t blow you away”, as “you know that they’ll stay”, and the closing line of ‘Massive Nights’ is just devastating: “she had a gun in her mouth and she was shootin' up at her dreams, when the chaperon said that we'd been crowned the king and the queen…”. As it goes in the album’s opening line – “There are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right – boys and girls in America have such a sad time together”.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Stuck Between Stations – 4:10
2.       Chips Ahoy! – 3:09
3.       Hot Soft Light – 3:53
4.       Same Kooks – 2:47
5.       First Night – 4:54
6.       Party Pit – 3:56
7.       You Can Make Him Like You – 2:48
8.       Massive Nights – 2:54
9.       Citrus – 2:44
10.   Chillout Tent – 3:42
11.   Southtown Girls – 5:10

Listen to ‘First Night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeLnY35hOX4

Also released on 3rd October:
1980: The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
Also released on 3rd October:
2006: The Decemberists – The Crane Wife

Also released on 3rd October:
2006: Beach House – Beach House

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