Boys And Girls In America

  • Record Label: Vagrant
  • Release Date: Oct 3, 2006

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Alternative Press
    These guys sound like they don't even understand why punks and classic rockers drink at separate bars. [Nov 2006, p.198]
  2. 100
    Finn’s writing is sharper than ever, the various narratives driven less by the wordy exposition of yore than acute observation, devastating detail, by turns exclamatory, epigrammatic and grainily authentic.
  3. The Hold Steady couldn't sound less fashionable if they set up a branch of C&A, but their bar-room rock - all power chords and fist-pumping choruses - is a perfect, if counter intuitive accompaniment to Finn's downbeat tales.
  4. The difference this time is that the Hold Steady consistently kick ass, nailing both Paul Westerberg's Teenage Yearning/Angst and Bruce's Common Man to a cross of Pure American Rock, unafraid of cliché, undaunted by the task of making the familiar exciting again.
  5. [Finn] not only has a commanding, rousing voice but he also says something worth hearing, displaying gifts for both scope and depth that are all too rare in contemporary rock-- indie or mainstream.
  6. Entertainment Weekly
    On several tracks, the swirls of organ they've added to their hyper-literate stomping suggest Deep Purple with a library card. [6 Oct 2006, p.68]
  7. The triumph of Boys And Girls is that it's full of the kind of songs that Finn's protagonists would crank up, relishing every power chord.
  8. This album lays it on too thick... and declines the thematic burden of "Separation Sunday." As stories, on the other hand, the songs could convince anyone that kids have a hard time.
  9. 90
    [Finn] tells better stories than anyone else in music these days. [Oct 2006, p.131]
  10. Paste Magazine
    The gentler surroundings encourage Finn to calm down and sing with a lilt of compassion. [Nov 2006, p.80]
  11. Not since Springsteen's "Greetings From Ashbury Park, NJ" has an album carved poetry so successfully from the dirty streets of America's greatest cities, or has a lyricist dealt so skilfully with the themes of addiction, failure and snatching redemption a split second before passing out.
  12. Both immediate and a grower, Boys and Girls in America stands tall as The Hold Steady’s masterwork – full of grace and gritty charm, full heartbreak and raw emotion.
  13. This is far from an album that will appeal to all, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than the Hold Steady's previous two efforts.
  14. The band's strongest offering to date.
  15. This is a smoking little record. Its focus is small, its reach is large; it's a winner.
  16. Under The Radar
    It’s as ambitious as Separation Sunday and musically more exhilarating. [#15]
  17. The songs are catchy, well written, anthemic, and fun.
  18. Boys in Girls in America is one gargantuan anthem short of, and two bits of filler long on, the band’s Born to Run.
  19. [Finn's] smart, poetic, unashamedly adult lyrics... almost guarantee this is the best arena band that’ll never play an arena.
  20. It's brainy and brawny: Springsteen and E Street Band comparisions valid.
  21. Q Magazine
    If there's a better little band in America right now, they're keeping very quiet. [Feb 2007, p.104]
  22. New Musical Express (NME)
    Almost cinematic in feel, much of The Hold Steady's genius lies in Finn's ability to craft songs that tell stories as wise, textured and three-dimensional as the nearest old oak tree. [13 Jan 2007, p.30]
  23. Mojo
    This time the music is as rich and detailed as [Finn's] wordplay. [Feb 2007, p.100]
  24. Finn’s examination of restless youth and wasted nights might not be as incisive nor as relevant as he clearly wants them to be, but there’s little question The Hold Steady has never sounded tighter.
  25. Packed with forceful, nuanced songwriting that makes room for face-melting guitar riffery, lovelorn Midwestern teenagers and even, by Hold Steady standards, a bit of actual singing.
  26. A dozen listens through... and I can’t help but think the band has done better in past.
  27. THS’s move toward a purer aping of classic rock is mostly welcome and largely successful; the fallout is the loss of the band’s snaky, blunt riffing, their wit dissipating into a pool of honest rocking.
  28. Songs like "First Night" and "You Can Make Him Like You" conjure up a bit of Springsteen, a bit of Westerberg and far more catchiness than they should rightfully be allowed.
  29. As frontman Craig Finn tries singing instead of just reciting and the band hang tighter around their major-chord riffs, the music sounds older than ever, recalling beautiful-loser ’70s rock like Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.”
  30. Rolling Stone
    Fist-pumpable rock with brains, heart and words worth coming back to. [5 Oct 2006, p.69]
  31. [Finn's] attempt to add more dimension to his whiskey-soaked vocals is striking. And for the most part it works.
  32. Spin
    Finn infuses his windy tales of youthful debauchery with a mixture of detective-fiction luridness and first-club-show romanticism. [Nov 2006, p.100]
  33. It should be an overblown, riotous mess, but it's perfectly held together by musicians seemingly forged as one by long nights in spit and sawdust boozers, and in singer Craig Finn, a lyricist of remarkable poise and eloquence.
  34. Finn... has the poetic lovable-loser act down cold, but is too distracted by the ever-present "Party Pit" and "Southtown Girls" to expand his vision beyond the club parking lot.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 106 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 61 out of 71
  2. Negative: 4 out of 71
  1. TomA
    Jan 20, 2010
    Musically, there are parallels here with Springsteen, but lyrically they are worlds apart. I do like Springsteen but Finn here goes way Musically, there are parallels here with Springsteen, but lyrically they are worlds apart. I do like Springsteen but Finn here goes way beyond his level of artistry, his lyrics are intelligent, colourful and very original, and his tales of tearaway youth portray a narrative not disimilar from that adopted by the Arctic Monkeys. This goes beyond classic Americana, as it blends wit, excuberance and artistry in an almost nonchalant manner - a modern classic in the most unlikely of guises. Just listen to the previous album 'Almost Killed Me' and you'll wonder where on earth this came from. Full Review »
  2. Ryanr
    Sep 14, 2008
    Better when it was called "Born To Run", but a great album nonetheless.
  3. Brian
    Feb 26, 2008
    Unbelievable album, such a fun album to listen to. Finn just seems like a likable character with these stories.