Stay Positive (album)

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For the song by The Streets, see Original Pirate Material.
Stay Positive
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive cover.jpg
Studio album by The Hold Steady
Released 15 July 2008
Genre Indie rock, Rock Opera
Length 43:48
Label Vagrant/Rough Trade
Producer John Agnello
The Hold Steady chronology
Boys and Girls in America
Stay Positive
Heaven Is Whenever
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating 90% link
Allmusic 3/5 stars link[dead link]
Alternative Press 4.5/5 stars
Drowned in Sound 9/10 link
Kerrang! 4/5 stars
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link
NME 9/10 link
The Skinny 4/5 stars link
Entertainment Weekly A link
Uncut 5/5 stars link
Pitchfork Media 8.4/10 link

Stay Positive is the fourth studio album by The Hold Steady, released on July 15, 2008 through Vagrant Records. Vocalist/guitarist Craig Finn notes that the album is about "the idea of ageing gracefully [...] keeping going, perseverance [and] how to stay true to the ideals and ideas you had when you were younger."[1] Keyboard player Franz Nicolay notes that the album is his favourite, stating that it features an "integrated, nuanced, less hectic distillation of [their earlier] sound."[2] Stay Positive is the last studio album to feature Nicolay, who departed from the band in early 2010.

On May 20, the album's first single, "Sequestered in Memphis", was released on the band's MySpace page and on iTunes. On June 9, the entire album was made available to stream on MySpace, and on June 18 the full album became available on iTunes. It was later released for the videogame Rock Band (via the Rock Band Network) on March 4, 2010.

The record entered the UK Album Chart at #15 on July 20, 2008, the third-highest new entry. It ranked #1 on the UK Indie Chart. In the U.S. it entered at #30 on the Billboard 200. The album was Alex Zane's record of the week on the XFM breakfast show. The song "Constructive Summer" was number 56 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008.[3]

Stay Positive has sold 88,000 copies as of April 2010 [4]

Lyrical content[edit]

In an interview with Uncut, Craig Finn notes that he thought the album "should maybe look at the characters I’d been writing about on the previous three albums as they got a bit older, more adult with more adult problems." The title track in particular references several Hold Steady songs and characters from the previous albums, such as "Hornets! Hornets!", "Positive Jam", "Massive Nights" and "Sweet Payne", while relating them to the common theme of believing in the ideals of youth as you get older.[1] The title track references hardcore punk bands Youth of Today, 7 Seconds, and Dillinger Four.[5]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
AV Club USA The Best Music of 2008 2008 #6[6]
Q UK 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008 #35[7]
Mojo UK 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008 #6[8]
Uncut UK 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008 #12[9]
Rolling Stone USA 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008 #36[10]
Entertainment Weekly USA Best Music of 2008: A Second Opinion by Chris Willman 2008 #1[11]

Bullying The Jukebox Radio Program (Australia) - Number 13

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Craig Finn and Tad Kubler, except where noted.

  1. "Constructive Summer" - 2:56
  2. "Sequestered in Memphis" - 3:33
  3. "One for the Cutters" - 4:41
  4. "Navy Sheets" - 3:23
  5. "Lord, I'm Discouraged" - 5:08
  6. "Yeah Sapphire" (Finn, Franz Nicolay) - 3:37
  7. "Both Crosses" - 4:35
  8. "Stay Positive" - 2:59
  9. "Magazines" (Finn, Nicolay) - 3:09
  10. "Joke About Jamaica" (Finn, Kubler, Nicolay) - 4:36
  11. "Slapped Actress" - 5:19

CD bonus tracks[edit]

A "limited edition digipak" version of the album was released with three bonus tracks (however, they are uncut from one another and run continuous as track 12):[12]

  1. "Ask Her for Adderall" - 2:52
  2. "Cheyenne Sunrise" - 4:11
  3. "Two Handed Handshake" - 4:15

Vinyl edition[edit]

A double LP vinyl edition is also available, which includes the limited edition CD's bonus track "Ask Her for Adderall," as well as a slightly different track order.

Disc 1 Side A:

  1. "Constructive Summer"
  2. "Sequestered in Memphis"
  3. "One For The Cutters"

Disc 1 Side B:

  1. "Navy Sheets"
  2. "Yeah Sapphire"
  3. "Lord, I'm Discouraged"

Disc 2 Side A:

  1. "Both Crosses"
  2. "Stay Positive"
  3. "Joke About Jamaica"

Disc 2 Side B:

  1. "Ask Her For Adderall"
  2. "Magazines"
  3. "Slapped Actress"


  1. ^ a b "Music Reviews". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  2. ^ Lindsay, Andrew (2009-02-16). "Interview: Franz Nicolay". Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  3. ^ "The 100 Best Songs of 2008". Rolling Stone (December 25, 2008). Retrieved 2009-01-12
  4. ^ "Hold Steady Seeks To Break Out Of The Brooklyn Rock Box". 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  5. ^ "Stay Positive" lyrics at
  6. ^ The Best Music of 2008
  7. ^ Q Magazine Jan 09, pg.83
  8. ^ " End Of year Lists". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  10. ^ " Rolling Stone (USA) End Of Year Lists". Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  11. ^ Entertainment Weekly Dec 26/Jan 02, pg.100
  12. ^ The Hold Steady's official website