Open Door Policy is The Hold Steady’s eighth studio album and second since the return of keyboardist Franz Nicolay. ODP has all the hallmarks one comes to expect from The Hold Steady, the wordy wordplay of vocalist Craig Finn along with the driving rock sound of the band. There are cool little moments in each song. The “woooo” background vocals of “Unpleasant Breakfast” and the horn section courtesy of Stuart Bogie and Jordan McLean, formerly of Antibalas, that adds lift to third single “Spices”.
“The Feelers” is a solid introduction to both the album and The Hold Steady. A varied track with some piano and strings before the drums and guitar really start to pump. “All the things you never really noticed before/Turned out they don’t even matter/’Cause when someone hits the switch in the kitchen/All the insects just scatter”. The more straightforward rock songs don’t quite hit the same way, unlike lead single “Family Farm” that comes out with blazing horns and guitar or the handclapping pop rock of “Riptown”. The best parts here are when the band is really cooking rather than just focusing on Finn’s intricate lyrics. There’s more than enough of those moments to carry this very good early 2021 album.