The Hold Steady – “Spices”

Adam Parshall

The Hold Steady – “Spices”

Adam Parshall

In a few short weeks, great American rock band the Hold Steady will release their new album Open Door Policy. It’s their follow-up to 2019’s Thrashing Thru The Passion, but that was mostly a Bandcamp singles collection, and this new one, recorded with Bonny Light Horseman’s Josh Kaufman, is a fully-formed LP — the Hold Steady’s first since 2014’s Teeth Dreams. I have heard the new album, and I can assure you that it rules very much. The song that the band shared today is evidence of just how much it rules.

Thus far, the Hold Steady have already dropped the early singles “Family Farm” and “Heavy Covenant.” Today, they’re hitting us with “Spices.” This is a radical oversimplification, but the Hold Steady are guys with backgrounds in ’90s underground rock who have found liberation in adapting the sounds of classic rock from the ’60s through the ’80s. There’s some of that on “Spices,” particularly in the bursts of horn on the chorus. But in its seasick, ominous guitar lurch, “Spices” gives us a Hold Steady that’s just a little more rooted in ’90s underground rock.

“Spices” is also one more writerly triumph for Craig Finn, who is still coming up with extremely cool ways to describe life on the margins. On this one, his narrator is a man drawn inexorably to a self-destructive woman: “She makes it really clear that she’s a way different person than the person that I knew in the past/ But once she starts rolling, it’s wild like the ocean/ And the ocean is violent and vast.” Listen below.

Open Door Policy is out 2/19 on the band’s own Positive Jams label. Pre-order it here.

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