Post by muzzleofbees on Feb 18, 2021 4:44:08 GMT -5
Since people have started to recieve their physical copies, and the digital release is mere hours away here in Europe, I think it's allright to post my early thoughts on the album as a whole. You're free to just scroll past this if you don't want any, eh, spoilers.
The most remarkable thing about ODP is how it's so familiar while also so different. I think it's fair to say that this is the biggest departure from their original sound ever, both in sound and in the way the songs are shaped and how they feel. About half the album is either modestly paced, or in a musical style I can't quite describe, but a little more jazzy and atmospheric than rocking. I keep coming back to how Blackout Sam serves as a precursor of what was about to come, and the feeling and atmosphere of that songs are replicated in two or three tracks here. The Feelers is also a small step away from the classic formula. It sounds like Hold Steady, but it sort of embraces the big ballad thing in a way they've never really done before. And Unpleasant Breakfast might be the biggest wow moment here. Drum machines, Sympathy For The Devil-esque woo's, congas (I think). It sounds a lot like Primal Scream to me, somewhere in between Screamadelica and Give Out But Don't Give Up. Riptown is a little bit in the same lane, it's lighter and a lot more Stones than Primal Scream, but I dig it.
Then there's the familiar stuff. Lanyards is a good midtempo rocker as anything they've done before, and it sounds like a more fleshed out and smarter The Weekenders to me. Not quite as rocking, but with intensity and passion, the chours hit hard. All the three songs previewed before the release are among the best on the album, and I'm still particulary fond of Heavy Covenant. Family Farm is pretty much the perfect version of the poprocking THS in 2021, and those horns still make me smile. And while I still enjoy Spices more in a live setting, I dig the rocky and groovy nature of it. My first impression hearing it live was that it sounded like Hold Steady re-imagining Queens Of The Stone Age. It's not quite as heavy after several listens, but it's such a well produced and -written song.
I have to say the album lags a little bit towards the end. I can't quite get a grip of Me & Magdalena or Hanover Camera, though the latter is a brave and different choice as a closer. I feel sort of the same about The Prior Procedure, but it has an amazing bridge who lifts it (a little Traditional Village in it, actually).
When Thrashing came out, I tried to compare Hold Steady to Wilco. It sounded a lot like what Wilco did on The Whole Love: A band who had matured and focused on refining their key elements, but still being able to push ahead towards new sounds. A very obvious 2.0 version of a band who might not had the same blasting energy, but still were able to convey their core into something new and different. I think this applies even more to this album. It's just a different version of the band. Recognizable, but still very much something else. There aren't any attempts on writing a new Hoodrat or Constructive Summere here, and I find myself strangely happy about that. Rather than turning old tricks once more, they step into new territory. It might not be as energetic or frantic as it once was, and in many ways does a fair share of the song here sound a lot more like something from We All Want The Same Things or I Need A New War than anything Hold Steady have done before. But they do it in such a professional, well-thought and well-executed way that the album turns out as something hihgly enjoyable. Hell, even refreshing. And when they mix this up with pretty classic bangers like Family Farm and Lanyards, it's pretty much the best version of Hold Steady '21 anyone could hope for.
I think it's really hard to rank this versus the other albums. I might enjoy large parts of Heaven Is Whenever or Thrashing Through The Passion more, but as an album and as a whole, ODP is more interesting to me. And I guess that puts it well into the top 5.
Quick track ranking, with the obvious disclaimer that this is something that will change:
01. Unpleasant Breakfast 02. Family Farm 03. Heavy Covenant 04. Lanyards 05. Spices 06. Riptown 07. The Feelers 08. The Prior Procedure 09. Me & Magdalena 10. Hanover Camera
A virtual beer to the first one who spot the one single line obviously written to serve a function in a live setting. Every time I hear it, I can almost hear the applause and cheering afterwards.
Still haven't heard the entire album so I'm not sure if this is what you had in mind, but "You wanna go get some beers?" in Spices will definitely get a loud affirmation when they're eventually able to play it in front of a crowd!
I'm not going to top what muzzleofbees had to say (great recap) but man, this sounds unlike any THS album yet it's a logical growth from everything they've done before. I love it. What a gift after an awful, awful week here in Texas. Can't wait to dig in with the lyrics in front of me. After a few (sneaky!) listens over the last couple of days, I'm not sure there is a weak song on ODP. Exactly what I needed.