The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams
Six albums in and The Hold Steady's template is well set: barnstorming hands-in-the-air rockers nestling alongside pathos dripping ballads. To expect any drastic changes to that formula in the four years since the underwhelming Heaven Is Whenever would be folly. What they have done though is add a twin lead guitar attack that adds a force and energy to Teeth Dreams that was sadly lacking in its predecessor. This can be heard to fine effect on the opening duo of ‘I Hope This Thing Doesn’t Frighten You’ and 'Spinners' that kick things off in typically rollicking form, while the mellower moments on the likes of ‘The Ambassadors’ show the band at their downbeat and acerbic best.
There are a few missteps, with the lumbering ‘The Only Thing’ and dull ‘Big Cig’ the main offenders, but these blips can be easily forgiven when the finishing double whammy of the acoustic beauty of ‘Almost Anything’ and the epic nine minute closer ‘Oaks’ come around. The latter, eerily reminiscent of the mighty ‘First Night’ from breakthrough album Boys & Girls In America, could well be the best thing The Hold Steady have ever written. Teeth Dreams is an album best played loud and is a reminder you just why this band of bar-room rocking balladeers have such a devoted following.