Roger’s Year in Music 2014: Teeth Dreams, by The Hold Steady.


Let’s begin with the disclaimer, which in terms of proper narrative structure should come later: Then again, I’m apparently among the few listeners who quite enjoyed The Hold Steady’s last album, Heaven Is Whenever (2010).

The band’s newest, 2014’s Teeth Dreams, seems unanimously regarded as a “comeback” of sorts after the previous misstep (see above), when the keyboard player had only recently departed, and the aural dynamics were in flux.

Teeth Dreams has taken a while to grow on me, but it has, in spite of what seems to me a wretched title. Craig Finn writes actual lyrics and is a storyteller, and there is a narrative stretching back over the band’s oeuvre. Finn seems more a singer, less a chanter here. The instrumental sound has gotten more muscular and guitar-oriented — that is, the elements of sound that can be gleaned from muddy production values.

As a reviewer pointed out, The Hold Steady may or may not get it right, but it’s hard to avoid rooting for them.