Album Review: The Hold Steady, 'Teeth Dreams'

by David Safar

The Hold Steady's 2014 album, 'Teeth Dreams'.
The Hold Steady's 2014 album, 'Teeth Dreams'. (© 2014 Razor & Tie LLC.)

The Hold Steady's sixth studio album, Teeth Dreams, delivers everything you expect with the added wisdom of a band who have tasted much deserved success and aren't going to hang up their instruments.

The Hold Steady are a band who still play rock and roll and can write songs with emotion and meaning. There were no gimmicks employed in the writing or production of the new songs. Clocking in at less than 50 minutes, Craig Finn is concise and focused in 2014. After a brief hiatus and a solo album under his own name, Finn is back with Tad Kubler to bring The Hold Steady back to form.

Critics may prefer the instrumentation and production of Boys and Girls in America and Stay Positive, but Teeth Dreams is the core of what The Hold Steady have done better than their contemporaries. They play guitar-driven rock music with smart lyrics. Finn tells stories and isn't afraid to write about the darker side of life, and his new songs are as dark as ever.

Fans who question the lineup change with Franz Nicolay's departure prior to 2010's Heaven is Whenever will be reminded that if it's Tad Kubler and Craig Finn, then it's The Hold Steady. What's different about this iteration of The Hold Steady is that Finn is writing more about love and less about his massive nights out. There are fewer references to his roots in Minneapolis and more songs about moving forward.

Teeth Dreams doesn't contain a party anthem. Instead, it's a late-night comfort album to listen to when you're winding down. It's not an album to listen to with friends, but it's an album that will wish you could. The album closer, "Oaks," is a slow exhale from the first nine songs. The instrumental bridge and solo at the end of the song channels loose riffs like a Crazy Horse jam and tight '80s anthem-rock changes. The song fades out leaving you wanting one more listen.

Teeth Dreams releases this Tuesday, March 25.

Have you heard the album? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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