Teeth Dreams - The Hold Steady
Teeth Dreams Image
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: The sixth studio album for the band is its first in four years and was produced by Nick Raskulinecz.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Mar 25, 2014
    91
    Finn has slowed what rolls off his tongue, just as The Hold Steady as a whole has at last jelled into a rock band--nothing more, nothing less, and nothing held back.
  2. 80
    Reconstituted with a brawny two-guitar attack, The Hold Steady return with another portfolio of dirty-realist tableaux in Teeth Dreams.
  3. Mar 17, 2014
    80
    Their best album since BAGIA, possibly longer. [Apr 2014, p.92]
  4. 80
    This is the Hold Steady's guitar album, in a discography full of guitar albums. Crank it.
  5. Apr 7, 2014
    70
    Beneath the arena-friendly sonics and the streamlined storytelling of Teeth Dreams lies the same old band that kicked off their very first number with a little bit of Mott The Hoople self-mythology, that fist-pumping Hold! Steady! chant within "Positive Jam."
  6. Mar 24, 2014
    60
    Whilst Teeth Dreams isn't a bad album, it feels pedestrian and ordinary compared to what The Hold Steady are capable of.
  7. 25
    From the sloppy production and uninspired arrangements to the fact that Tad Kubler hasn’t written a memorable guitar lead since 2008, Teeth Dreams sounds like the characters in its songs: past its prime and just trying to get by, but with the past creeping back in and not letting anyone forget it.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Mar 30, 2014
    9
    It took me a few listens to get into it. First thing I noticed about this album is its shift, there are hardly any names mentioned. Its all she this, he this. Finn's lyrics once again can be pure genius at times referencing poets, bands, historical events and even past Hold Steady albums. For Example in the opening track, we see the return of the cityscape skins. This song recalls lines from 'Killer Parties' which followers of the hold steady will appreciate.

    I kinda liked Heaven is whenever. But it didn't contain the lyrics, I loved or the guitar work that really stood out. So this was a breathe of fresh air, Hold Steady are back on track.
    Give this a few listens. Finns singing surprisingly can really tug your heart strings or get your fists pumping, and yes it is actually singing which is a mixed blessing. There are some lines he says which he presents flawlessly.

    The Standout Tracks for me are...

    I Hope This Whole Thing Doesn't Frighten You - Theres something about this opening track which sets the tone. Guitar driven, with agressive lyrics about gangs, death, prison its like Seperation Sunday all over again. It is a little repetitive but not too much so.
    The Only Thing - This contains some of Finn's best singing. When he hits the line "sure she's still with you, but first she was with me" Theres a deep sense of loss and sadness in here. But an awesome song nonetheless it probably wouldn't be out of place on Stay Positive or BAGIA
    The Ambassador - A slow little power ballad, with the best lyrics on the album. This may be the return of Gideon although his name is never mentioned. Its a story of a girl, some skinheads, bloodshed and pills at a Night Club. Real old school Hold Steady.
    On With The Business - This chorus is made for stadiums, this is one of The Hold Steady's most solid rock tunes. The guitar and lyrics are flawless, its the instant standout from the album.
    Oaks - The closing track in Hold Steady style lasts a good 9 minutes. This is one of The Hold Steady's greatest songs. I would put this in their top 5 easily. Its slow paced at first and then speeds up to a climax and finishes which some beautiful guitar work. The lyrics express anxiety in a small town, feeling trapped, big dreams, past mistakes, loss. This is a work of art. Finn is godlike here every word is haunting and packs a punch.

    Overall 8.5 I would say the lyrics are bloody incredible every listen I give to this album I discover another line of pure gold. Finn still has the snarling, drunk man howling at a bar except this time hes waking up from a hangover, less slur with his words. He retains his rock voice except it now has a beautiful tone in it.
    The music is incredible and Finn and the band sound so in sync. Its like its natural for them now. The guitar tone is amazing most obvious in songs like oaks. There are some moments where you just have to close your eyes and let the sweet sound of the guitars together flow through your brain.

    This album is class. If you don't think so and you're a fan, I beg of you listen to the songs I recommend here. Garuantee you'll change your mind once you appreciate the lyrics, the singing and guitar.

    Anyway can't wait for their next album.

    Thanks for reading and as always Hold Steady.
    Expand
  2. May 7, 2014
    9
    This is a great album, and a return to form after Heaven is whenever. If you like their past work you will not be disappointed. Craig Finn's lyrics still are as evocative as ever, still wordy but a little leaner. Its a guitar album and further enhances their reputation as the world's greatest ever bar band. Recommended. Expand
  3. Mar 30, 2014
    6
    I love The Hold Steady. I have every album, collected every b-side and rare song I could find and I probably always will because I'm a loyalist when it comes to music. But if there's one album I would choose for people not to listen to when introducing themselves to the band, it would be 'Teeth Dreams.'

    A Hold Steady album is like sex: Even when it's bad, you're still having sex. There's nothing wrong with the album, but there are two things that could have been done better.

    The first is the mix. It's so washed out. Craig's vocals are constantly competing with two guitars, a bass and drums. One thing that was so great about their other albums was Craig's vocals slicing through and bringing everything together in a very unique way. His vocal style is an acquired taste but that;s what made it so great. Additionally, there's so much reverb on his vocals it takes away from the gruff, blunt talk-sing delivery we've become accustomed to. With such a bland mix there's no weight to the guitars. Everything just sounds like it's going then it's gone.

    Second, (I love Craig Finn's storytelling so it pains me to say) the lyrics are a little generic. Normally Craig paints a picture for us using imaginative characters. Then he brings them back in other songs. It's like replacing pronouns with familiar faces and I've grown attached to. But there's far too many "he/she/them" than there are "Holly/Gideon/Charlemagne." If you're not familiar with these characters, it's usually cool because you can pick up on them. It sounds like Craig is singing about Anytown, US than the Minneapolis/St. Paul underground.

    Other than those beefs which brought the score down from a 10 to a 8, it dropped 1 more in my opinion (which is like an a-hole, everyone's got one and they all stink except yours) because the songs just aren't there but they're so close. "I Hope this whole thing didn't Frighten You", "Spinners", "The Ambassador" and "Oaks" are good (I wonder if they could have been great with a different mix though.) "The Only Thing", "On with the Business", "Big City" and "Almost Everything" have elements that make them reasonably good listening. "Wait a While" and "Runner's High" just aren't good songs. I would have preferred if they were replaced with some rarities they released "Just Saying" and "Criminal Fingers"

    And then I dropped it one more point because...there's only 10 songs. Of course I'd be complaining about too many filler songs if they just threw two more on there. So I guess that's just a catch 22 from the session.

    Even if you don't like the album though, definitely check out their live show. Been to many of their concerts and they never fail to be awesome.
    Expand
  4. Apr 23, 2014
    4
    Overall, this album can be summed up by one statement, "Generic Bar Rock" To me at least. Doesn't speak to me at all. At least i had no expectations for this thing, so i was not crushed. Expand