On their last album, 2010's Heaven Is Whenever, the Hold Steady felt like a band in a state of transition as they found their footing after parting ways with Franz Nicolay. On Teeth Dreams, it feels as though the Brooklyn band have spent the intervening time finding their way, returning with a refreshed sound for their sixth album. Added to the ranks is former Lucero guitarist Steve Selvidge, who joined up with the band as a touring guitarist before eventually settling in as a full-fledged member. The interplay between Selvidge and Tad Kubler adds an interesting new dimension to the Hold Steady's, with Memphis-style Southern rock colliding with Midwestern guitar heroics to create a beautiful blend of plaintiveness and drive. Musically, the album feels like the more rockin' sibling to singer Craig Finn's solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes -- where the verbose vocalist explored a looser, country-inspired vibe -- than a follow-up to their wintry fifth album. With two guitarists in play, the album has an all-around warmer sound, as there is hardly a moment that isn't expertly filled in by these two expert axe-men. While Kubler is far from a slouch on his own, the differences in playing style between him and Selvidge lend the songs here a lot more depth. This means the band can open things rather than always going for the throat with a searing riff, making Teeth Dreams an album that rocks while still feeling laid-back. This new direction is one that suits the band well, and although it may seem like they've put their bar rock days in their rear view mirror, it's seems pretty clear that the band is heading toward a big, arena rock future.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney