"Me and my friends are like the drums on 'Lust for Life,'" sings Craig Finn, opening Stay Positive with what is almost certainly the perfect rock-and-roll analogy. Not only is it a cool literary device, but it captures the essence of the Hold Steady, marrying classicism with punk ethos and plenty of exuberant swagger. The comparison also forms the unifying conceit for the entire record, with Finn's usual odes to hard living almost treated as a look back over the shoulder: "Shit, I can't believe we did all that and are still around." Don't worry, though: This isn't a record of mid-life ruminations. Underneath is a strong determination to move forward, with the band telling incredible stories and buying plenty of drinks along the way.
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