The Springsteen influence is heavily tamped down on this record. It’s still there in in Finn’s songs – he has to be the most Springsteenian songwriter I’ve yet devoted time too – but the musical influences have expanded. The punk edge is definitely greater (though, do not mistake me, I am not calling this “punk”) and there are various other musical influences we would expect from American indie rock in the Aughts.
And this is all well and good because they have stopped sounding like a louder, grittier E Street Band. So good for them.
I still don’t like Finn’s songs. They are not written for me. They are written for other people, most of whom I doubt I know or would get along with. And they’re so damn prose-filled. But that’s not to say he’s bad. He’s clearly a good songwriter, he’s just not my kind of songwriter.
I’d probably say this is my “favourite” Hold Steady album. But I’m still never going to experience a “Hey, you know what I want to do right now? Listen to The Hold Steady” moment. That will never happen. (And it’s hard to get excited about a band like that.)