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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 168 - 05/28/10

The Hold Steady
Heaven Is Whenever
Rough Trade/Playground

Heaven is Whenever is the Brooklyn-based classic alternative rock band The Hold Steady's fifth studio album. It succeeds the very much deserved critical acclaimed Stay Positive from 2008. And even with a more laissez-faire title, it manages to actually be an even more positive acquaintance.

There is something immediate with Heaven is Whenever. A feeling of recognition. From the classic rock opener "The Sweet Part of the City" to the more dirty, sonic vibes of the closure "A slight discomfort". This recognition isn't just because The Hold Steady sound as the good old themselves, even if they also do that. It is because this album is the familiar sound of traditional American heavy guitar-based rock. Done in the purest, modern retro style.

Heaven is Whenever could so easily have become a homage to the 80ies power ballads and long-and-lonesome-road-tunes, but every time you think The Hold Steady is crossing the sober line, they takes just that little turn of tone, that makes this album so listen-worthy. Like the beautiful and bold heavy sensibility of "Soft in the Centre" that is followed by the solemn "The Weekenders", or the key-based exception of "We Can Get Together", where vocalist Craig Finn is close to crooning over a dreamy choir that is flanked with very straight rock. I also have to mention their flirt with neo-swing on "Barely Breathing", that also softens the overall heavy guitar impression.

So, summarized, The Hold Steady have with Heaven is Whenever delivered a rock album that is almost perfectly what a classic rock album should sound like.

Copyright © 2010 Aslaug O Klausen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Hold Steady article/review: Seperation Sunday.

© 2011 Luna Kafé