An album review of Thrashing Thru The Passion
By Anna Walsh
The Hold Steady is back with a bang. Five years after its last album, Teeth Dreams, which fell a little flat both critically and among fans, Thrashing Thru The Passion soars.
A lot has changed for the band in these five years. Frontman Craig Finn put out a trilogy of amazing solo albums, and The Hold Steady changed the way they tour, hitting major cities for multiple night runs a few times a year, often to celebrate the anniversaries of prior records. Finally, the lineup of the band grew to include its prior members once more.
This meant the return of keys master Franz Nicolay, who joins the original lineup, plus rhythm guitarist Steve Selvidge, originally brought in to replace Nicolay. The result is one of the most sonically ambitious records the band has ever made, and it pays off in a big way.
It is an album by a band that knows itself and knows rock ‘n’ roll.
On August 16, the band released Thrashing Thru The Passion. It is an album by a band that knows itself and knows rock ‘n’ roll. The Hold Steady channels the E Street Band on “Traditional Village,” with big brass and a crisp bridge, then skates effortlessly into bar room crooner ”Blackout Sam.”
The latter half of the record is composed of five songs that were released as singles over the course of last year. The final track, “Confusion in the Marketplace,” is among the best of them, not least because of the lyrics, “I don’t want to dick around, I just want to devastate.”
Lyrically, this record is mostly devoid of the band’s once-trademark religious motifs. It is, however, chock full of the minute details and observations on humanity that make the Hold Steady so relatable and well loved. Listen to ”Epaulets” and “The Stove and the Toaster” for a sense of what the band does best.
These songs would be great live, as they each have the triumphant, peak-of-the-party sound that lends itself so well and so uniquely to The Hold Steady shows. With Thrashing Thru The Passion, The Hold Steady proves it is still in a bar band.