10th Anniversary Reissue of Stay Positive. Includes original album, rarities, plus 3 never before released tracksThe hold steady's ascent and eventual breakthrough with 2006's 'boys and girls in america' was never pre-ordained. if anything they did it without the tastemakers' consent. their shtick is old-fashioned through and through, beginning with thin lizzy and ending with bruce springsteen, performed by men advanced enough to have experienced those touchstones first or second hand. and look at them - not exactly the strokes, are they? but it was precisely their enthusiastic unoriginality, the fact that the cliches were piled on so thick and so fast, that they triumphed. and placed next to that unapologetically feel good record, that 'stay positive' sounds so immediately brighter and more muscular is undoubtedly a great sign. production is really cranked up - see the horns wedged into 'sequestered in memphis', the rem mandolin texturing of 'both crosses' and the surprising harpsichord flagrancy of 'one for the cutters'. they're clearly determined to not be so easily pegged this time around, though admittedly they never exactly go that far off-piste. "our songs are sing-along songs," announced craig finn semi-helpfully, and though the spirit is right, with such a conversational lyrical style that is rarely the case. it's more about the rock gestures and knowing when to punch the air. and there are instances aplenty, from the pete townsend-esque windmill power-chords in 'constructive summer', to the overblown solo in 'lord i'm discouraged' that is so 'november rain'. on rough trade.