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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

A heavenly album

Grade: A

In the past decade, the Hold Steady has established themselves as one of the strongest rock bands around. Critics have loved their first four albums, and their classic rock-meets-punk sound has won them a sizable audience of rock enthusiasts.

The band's fifth album, Heaven is Whenever, is one of the strongest rock records released so far this year and should only increase the band's fan base. This album finds the Minnesota-based group exploring new styles while staying true to their roots.

Things begin in typical Hold Steady fashion with "The Sweet Part of the City," a rock anthem worthy of Springsteen in his prime. It's the type of timeless track that fans have come to expect from this band, and it never gets old.

As the album progresses, it continues on its emotionally resonant note. "Soft in The Center" finds front man Craig Finn encouraging a young man who is insecure around girls. Anyone who's ever been to high school can relate to his words of wisdom. Truly, the relatable nature of the band's songs is one of their strongest aspects.

One thing The Hold Steady has become known for over the years is making references to the bands that inspired them, and this album is no exception.

"Rock Problems," one of the strongest tracks on the album, is a power-pop gem that features numerous references to Cheap Trick. This is a fitting homage, since the Cheap Trick-sound wouldn't seem out of place on one of their albums.

Later on, "We Can Get Together" somehow manages to cram references to Pavement, Husker Du and Todd Rundgren into four and a half minutes of glorious rock reverence.

The fact that the Hold Steady is so willing to pay tribute to those who inspired them says a lot about who they are. They are a band that wears their heart on their sleeves and absolutely loves what they do.

When taking that into consideration, it's not a surprise that the record is brilliant. The only question is how long the band can stay on their winning streak.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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