The Hold Steady: Teeth Dreams
Fans of The Hold Steady expect gritty narratives about booze, rehab, blood and redemption, tales of muddle-headed scenesters, sex and Jesus, all delivered with singer Craig Finn’s jittery urgency. They crave epic riffs and classic-rock style. There’s all that on Teeth Dreams, the band’s sixth studio record. Like on 2010’s Heaven Is Whenever, Finn again avoids his recurring characters—like Holly, Charlemagne and Gideon, but he retains his ear for the perspective of tragicomic dudes: “I said a couple things that probably weren’t technically true,” goes one line. In sound and feel, Teeth Dreams is a return to the muscular chug of 2008’s Stay Positive. (Production-value vigilantes may wrinkle their noses at the occasional overdramatic echo on the vocals.) There’s an element of familiarity to The Hold Steady—like souped-up Thin Lizzy and Bruce Springsteen—with hat tips to Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Clash, Tom Petty and a lot of other icons. And now, the band has reached that phase where they sound like themselves, which is only a problem if you are hungry for newness.