• 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. This is a smoking little record. Its focus is small, its reach is large; it's a winner.
  2. These guys sound like they don't even understand why punks and classic rockers drink at separate bars. [Nov 2006, p.198]
  3. 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.
  4. [Finn's] smart, poetic, unashamedly adult lyrics... almost guarantee this is the best arena band that’ll never play an arena.
  5. [Finn's] attempt to add more dimension to his whiskey-soaked vocals is striking. And for the most part it works.
  6. 90
    [Finn] tells better stories than anyone else in music these days. [Oct 2006, p.131]
  7. A dozen listens through... and I can’t help but think the band has done better in past.
  8. The songs are catchy, well written, anthemic, and fun.
  9. 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.
  10. At most, half the songs on this album are capable of successfully fusing Finn’s compelling narratives with rather less than impressive instrumentation for an effect that’s worth some merit. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t ‘hold’ for the remainder.
  11. 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.
  12. 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]
  13. 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.
  14. 80
    This time the music is as rich and detailed as [Finn's] wordplay. [Feb 2007, p.100]
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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]
  19. 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.
  20. It's brainy and brawny: Springsteen and E Street Band comparisions valid.
  21. The gentler surroundings encourage Finn to calm down and sing with a lilt of compassion. [Nov 2006, p.80]
  22. [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.
  23. Though loquacious, 'Boys and Girls in America' is a record full of maddening stream of consciousness lyrics that amble without direction, and narratives with no real stories or purpose.
  24. Boys in Girls in America is one gargantuan anthem short of, and two bits of filler long on, the band’s Born to Run.
  25. 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.
  26. If there's a better little band in America right now, they're keeping very quiet. [Feb 2007, p.104]
  27. Fist-pumpable rock with brains, heart and words worth coming back to. [5 Oct 2006, p.69]
  28. 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.
  29. 70
    Finn infuses his windy tales of youthful debauchery with a mixture of detective-fiction luridness and first-club-show romanticism. [Nov 2006, p.100]
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.”
  33. 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.
  34. The band's strongest offering to date.
  35. 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.
  36. It’s as ambitious as Separation Sunday and musically more exhilarating. [#15]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 105 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 64 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.