Heaven Is Whenever

  • Record Label: Vagrant
  • Release Date: May 4, 2010

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. If 2008's Stay Positive was a haunted wastoid cautionary tale, Heaven is a survivor's celebration of staying alive
  2. With Heaven is Whenever, the most consistent band in rock and roll remains reliable, as The Hold Steady give their sound a fresh update while not straying too far from what makes them so endearing.
  3. Heaven is Whenever is not just a vast improvement from their last effort but it's also a fifth album from a band that still sounds surprisingly awesome and it's just another album for a detractor to listen to and hopefully, fall in love with--it's only a matter of time.
  4. Make no mistake, there is still plenty of rock--it's just doled out selectively instead of consistently.
  5. Their loud, rough and tumble early efforts on Almost Killed Me and Separation Sunday have combined nicely here with a sense of southern rock and pop rock from the past few albums to produce another gem for an amazingly consistent band with plenty of room left to grow.
  6. There's enough fun, intelligent rock n roll to give anyone their Hold Steady fix but in context of their discography, and with a little bit of prodding, this is something grander.
  7. This transitional album indicates there is more in their locker.
  8. The tunes, too, are as lush and anthemic as ever.
  9. With "Heaven Is Whenever,'' it seems unlikely that the Hold Steady will again change how we talk about modern rock, but when a band has already framed the parameters of the debate, it doesn't necessarily have to.
  10. One might suspect that The Hold Steady's rock repurposing would eventually chafe, but they're achieving the opposite effect, again pulling off with heroic sincerity the idea that heaven is lying on the floor listening to records-even if you're well past 16.
  11. Alternative Press
    Although former member Franz Nicolay's piano parts are missed, the Hold Steady have still managed to craft a great record for a barbecue on a hot summer day--and for the hangover the next morning. [Jun 2010, p.105]
  12. It's their most polished record, nearly majestic at points, without scrimping on bloodshot angst or exuberance.
  13. The album has a quality about it that's sweeping without being out and out uplifting, feeling more informed by the rigors of touring than the denizens of the Twin Cities and their lapsed Catholic revelations.
  14. [The departure of keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay] Far from having a negative affect on these 10 songs, The Hold Steady have flourished in this slight change of tack, with frontman Craig Finn's inimitable, narrative lyrics as stirring as ever.
  15. Uncut
    It's the natural, assured way in which Heaven Is Whenever moves between building on past glories and breaking fresh ground that's so impressive. [Jun 2010, p.85]
  16. Every line seems to come straight from the mouth of that guy right over there, you know, the buddy of your buddy-the one you always wanted to ride around with while he told his stories but never got the chance to. Well, here it is. Are you game?
  17. The departure earlier this year of keyboardist Franz Nicolay means less Springsteen-like keyboard embellishments, but the group's Everyman quality remains intact thanks to vocalist/guitarist Craig Finn's straightforward lyricism and lead guitarist Tad Kubler's signature swells.
  18. Some fans assumed that Nicolay's departure would make for a leaner, less melodramatic band, but The Hold Steady's fifth album, Heaven Is Whenever, sounds as deliberately mythical as ever.
  19. None of the songs quite scale the heights of a "Stuck Between Stations" or "Your Little Hoodrat Friend," but it's to the band's credit that Heaven goes down considerably easier than Stay Positive (2008), fortunately bereft of the obvious clunkers that rendered that album's Side B such a slog.
  20. 72
    Craig Finn's lyrics house the crass beauty of a worn-down dweller of the turning century, making this album a movie I'd pay 10 bucks to see.
  21. Heaven is Whenever is good for the exact reasons Hold Steady records always tend to be good. Such dogged consistency suggests it's doubtful Finn and company will ever come out with a startling masterpiece that frees them from Springsteen's shadow, but it also implies they're extremely unlikely to make a bad record.
  22. These aren't the band's strongest songs, but they're definitely some of their most interesting.
  23. While the wine-favouring moustache-sporting figure of Franz Nicolay is no longer a fixture, the remaining members are present and correct albeit in a somewhat more reflective mode than of yore. It suits them.
  24. While fifth disc Heaven Is Whenever doesn't break formula, it proves slightly more temperate and introspective without compromising big riffs.
  25. It's a pretty good album if you can get the idea of its dreary additions to their setlists out of your head.
  26. It adds up to another transitional effort rather than a major statement.
  27. The band definitely misses its Snidely Whiplash-evoking keyboardist Franz Nicolay, and while a gentle country cut like "The Sweet Part of the City" or AM ballad "We Can Get Together" shows broader ambitions, "Heaven" already feels a bit preserved in amber--maybe the amber of a spilled Schlitz tall boy, but still.
  28. Despite the confidence of that opening track, Heaven Is Whenever sounds like a transitional album, hopefully paving the way for something stronger, more cohesive, more specific.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. j30
    Oct 28, 2011
    Loved this album. It's their most produced record to date, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Craig Finn is one of my favoriteLoved this album. It's their most produced record to date, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Craig Finn is one of my favorite lyricist. They way he phrases his songs about heartbreak, love, and partying are both hilarious and thought provoking. Full Review »
  2. Sep 30, 2010