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Heaven Is Whenever

Heaven Is Whenever by The Hold Steady
Released: May 2010
Label: Vagrant Records (Us)
It's never been so hard to make out Craig Finn's wordplay as on his band's fifth studio album; his vocals are garbled low in the mix. He seems to going for more no-nonsense sincerity about lost community, fewer wise-guy allusions to classic rock and Catholicism. St. Theresa and an offertory basket do show up, a few old Cheap Trick and Husker Du titles get name-checked, and there are intermittent Thin Lizzy changes, Poison riffs and cowbells. But the overall mood feels fatigued like, say, late-period Everclear. So any of the Hold Steady's previous four would be a smarter place to start.
Chuck Eddy