Stay Positive - The Hold Steady

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Stay Positive not only confirms The Hold Steady’s status as one of the best rock’n’roll bands in the world, but establishes them as one of its most important too.
  2. They've resurrected with this, their fourth album, the seemingly outmoded concept that with enough nurturing and faith, a band - and by extension it's audience - can grow into a beautiful thing.
  3. They turn critics into gibbering wrecks unable to write proper reviews and leave us forced to just string together our favourite lyrics like a damn teenage girl scribbles Tokio Hotel choruses onto her bed headboard. But, y’know. Hairier.
  4. While they continue to prove themselves a more convincing classic rock act than should be possible in 2008, there's a tension in this album's lyrics between old-fashioned storytelling and breaking down the fourth wall. Stay Positive is their mostly successful bid to have it both ways.
  5. It is not only the Hold Steady's best record, but acts as a culmination of all of the ideas, stories, musical paths and character journeys that they've so pointedly led us down before.
  6. 'Stay Positive' nails the travails of the aging rock band harder than 'Start Me Up' because it's about fans, and 'Constructive Summer' craftily confuses different ways to get hammered.
  7. Stay Positive is a true testament that good music will always prevail. One can only hope that a band like this will continue to make music for years and years to come because we desperately need it.
  8. The sound is more varied and lighter on its feet with touches of harpsichord and banjo but anchored by the Hold Steady's signature: thick, humid arena rock, a high-pressure system of cresting guitars and pianos that injects these dramas with tension and embraces all their contradictions and ambiguities.
  9. A record made for blasting and getting blasted, Stay Positive makes it easy to follow through on its title.
  10. 86
    Self-referential, poetic, spoken-sung performances in dirty beer halls, Midwest anthems that make everyone raise those beers in the beer halls. [Summer 2008, p.92]
  11. Damn if an already nearly perfect album doesn't, with these bonus tracks, gets a little better itself. [18 Jul 2008, p.64]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 91 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 56
  2. Negative: 9 out of 56
  1. j30
    Oct 28, 2011
    Just some awesome American Rock music with guitars galore. Classic Rock bands like Bruce Springsteen come to mind while listening to this record. I can't recommend this enough. Full Review »
  2. Mar 28, 2011
    This is rock and roll. The Hold Steady remind me a lot of Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones and you can really understand those comparisons once you listen to this album. Starts off with a bang with "Constructive Summer" and then goes to "Sequestered In Memphis" which is easily the stand out track. Craig Finn doesn't really sing, but talks rhythmically and sometimes yells but he tells a story in each track. He, nevertheless, has a great voice and the back up vocals come perfectly at times. The guitar solos in this album feel like Led Zeppelin guitar solos. All In All, Stay Positive mixes old rock and roll with modern garage punk rock and it sounds really great. B+ Full Review »
  3. Sep 3, 2010
    A bit of a change for the Hold Steady. Putting their feet in Brooklyn, they are adapting to a little New York sound but remain steadily themselves. Not as exciting, however, than some previous albums. Full Review »