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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 [b]The Hold Steady[/b], a band with all the dependability of a ’69 Chevy whose oil [b]Bruce Springsteen[/b] 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 – [i]“Back when we were living up on Halpern/And she kept threatening to turn us in”[/i] – 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. [b]‘We Can Get Together’[/b] is the LP’s centerpiece, a love song to a seven-inch by ’90s twee-poppers [b]Heavenly[/b] 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.

[b]Barry Nicolson[/b]

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