Album Reviews: Boys and Girls in America by The Hold SteadyAsbury Park has Bruce. The Twin Cities have Craig Finn, lead "singer"/lyricist of The Hold Steady, currently a Brooklyn band. Their third LP, Boys and Girls in America, is reminiscent of old school horns and swagger Springsteen but with a little dirtier mission. Imagine Hootenanny-era Westerberg at the helm of the E Street Band or maybe even Back in Black AC/DC.
Higher production values, more melody, and even guest vocalists such as Dave Pirner and Elizbeth Elmore ("Chillout Tent") make this the richest offering from The Hold Steady. You can pump your fist and sing along while not feeling so silly because of Finn's incisive and intelligent lyrics. The entire band serves up a huge Meat Loaf-esque helping of piano, bass, drums, and guitars and more guitars. This is classic rock without regret or schmaltz.
There's been plenty written about the poetic nature of Finn's hard partying characters. But here's the important thing: Boys and Girls in America just plain rocks. It's ballsy air guitar arena rock in a good way. Don't be ashamed to jump off your couch. This album is a back yard party cranker, meant for driving around and wandering. When you have time to reflect, you'll find certain couplets sticking with you. It certainly helps to be familiar with the many Minneapolis streets and landmarks name checked here, but there is a universal quality to the plights of these lost souls searching for something to do. As for me, I'm gonna walk around and drink some more because "Party Pit" gets my vote for rock song of the year. - Jeff Kamin
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