Album Review: The Hold Steady - 'Heaven Is Whenever' (Rough Trade)

Giving the young'uns a run for their money

Album Review: The Hold Steady - 'Heaven Is Whenever' (Rough Trade)

8 / 10 “Rock is a young man’s game,” Craig Finn declared recently, presumably while squinting through black-rimmed spectacles and scratching what’s left of his hairline in wonder at how, aged 38, his musical stock has never been higher. The answer’s easy; rock’s young men can’t hold a candle to The Hold Steady, a band with all the dependability of a ’69 Chevy whose oil Bruce Springsteen just changed. Their fifth album in six years sounds a lot like the four that preceded it, opening on one of Finn’s vague couplets – “Back when we were living up on Halpern/And she kept threatening to turn us in” – that’s like wandering back from the bogs to find your mate halfway through telling the greatest pub tale ever. The tunes, too, are as lush and anthemic as ever. ‘We Can Get Together’ is the LP’s centerpiece, a love song to a seven-inch by ’90s twee-poppers Heavenly that references the drummer’s suicide to heartbreaking effect. It may be a young man’s game, but Finn makes a grown man’s job of it.

Barry Nicolson

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