AOTY 2021

Open Door Policy

The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy
Critic Score
Based on 24 reviews
2021 Ratings: #323 / 671
User Score
Based on 122 ratings
2021 Ratings: #649
Liked by 3 people
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God Is in the TV

Open Door Policy, their eighth album, no less, sits right up there as one of their finest works yet.

A.V. Club

While the band’s smoothness may mirror the gentrification of the dive bars it once canonized, its empathy and affection for the dirtbags yearning for transcendence remains as strong as ever.


Maybe the most impressive thing about the band’s eighth album is how the group continues to push beyond its own boundaries.


If art mimics life, then Open Door Policy's musical tension, timely themes and efforts to reimagine the band while remaining authentic deftly capture today's world.


Rousing, rueful andvery funny: one of their best yet.

Slant Magazine

The band’s ability to get to the heart of this change and create compelling songs from familiar scenes helps make Open Door Policy the best Hold Steady album in over a decade.


Open Door Policy is quite possibly the best Hold Steady album since 2008’s Stay Positive.


By focusing on bringing light and shade into the margins, the Hold Steady wound up with an album that feels vivid and alive; it's as if the songs themselves have a life outside of the recording.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Although the shadow of Springsteen still lingers, there are more horns this time out, and the band tips their hats to the likes of the Rumour on Unpleasant Breakfast and even Steely Dan on the low-ride groove of Hanover Camera.


Finn’s lyrics ingrain themselves within the cracks of the tables and chairs - the home for where his tales should be told - and you can’t help but reminisce over that feeling of camaraderie embraced on late drunken nights as the band revel in renewed joy with ‘Open Door Policy’.

The Forty-Five

The band have matured without losing their undying optimism and ear for fun.

American Songwriter

Expressed from a first person point of view, the music comes across with a sense of unease, urgency and uncertainty, which, in turn, boosts both interest and intrigue.

Classic Rock

Brooklyn’s anthemic bar rockers The Hold Steady tell stories featuring a litany of beaten characters on Open Door Policy, but there's light in the darkness.

Beats Per Minute

This time around, The Hold Steady aren’t abandoning their principles for shinier production. Their insistence for organic compositions stands out thoughtfully on Open Door Policy, and it reminds us precisely why we fell in love with The Hold Steady in the first place.


Dark, ominous, but still marching forth with that same bar-rock passion, the Hold Steady feel more unified, making a place for each member within their music’s newfound sprawl.

Rolling Stone

This late in the game, Craig Finn should have run out of punk-rock-noir narratives, but, nope, the lyrics on the eighth THS album are as vivid as ever, and the guitars ring true.


There’s little in the way of new ground broken here, but it’s consistent nonetheless.

The Line of Best Fit

The Hold Steady are a warm port in a cold storm, and Open Door Policy is sweet relief from this shocker of a year. Best enjoyed loud and often.

Spectrum Culture

Perhaps the best thing that could be said about Open Door Policy is that it’s a Hold Steady album, with all the merits and flaws that go with that signifier.


Like the title implies, it's hard to see the Hold Steady's latest album as something more than just another shrewd career move.

The Observer

The Brooklyn-based rockers add a splash of brass to their everyman stylings on this lyrical eighth album.

En definitiva el fuerte de la banda, como he leído en varios de los comentarios, no es su vocalista; en ocasiones me recuerda mucho a Damon Albarn, pero más deslavado, en otros de sus proyectos que no son Gorillaz, como The Good, The Bad & The Queen o en sus discos en solitario. Mas el sonido me resulta interesante sin llegar a lo espectacular. Para considerar que estamos ante una banda en su octavo disco, y con más de quince años de carrera, créanme ... read more
This is my first exposure to The Hold Steady, an alternative band that’s been performing together for almost twenty years. On “Open Door Policy”, my first impression of the band is that there’s a lot here that could be great if it weren’t for one specific weak spot.

Being given the tagline “Power, Wealth, and Mental Health” by frontman Craig Finn, “Open Door Policy” is filled with heartland rock and indie rock tunes in a similar vain to ... read more

The voice / talking is such a big letdown….
This is quite confusing for me, some really boring pop rock tunes with some country influences and then there’s an amazing 10/10 hard riffs just sitting in the middle of the tracks. The stories are quite interesting and suspenseful too which is always nice. Such a confusing array of music but I enjoyed for the most part.
Open Door Policy is an interesting combination of heartland rock with indie pop and a pinch of post-punk. The biggest strenght of The Hold Steady is creating a dreamlike vibe and hypnotic atmospheres for the entire runtime of this album. The melodies on ODP are intoxicatingly sweet, gentle and captivating; the band is nothing short of fantastic: the production on the guitars is otherwordly, making some of the greatest riffs I've heard in a very long time; the horns enhance the songs and help to ... read more
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Track List

  1. The Feelers
  2. Spices
  3. Lanyards
  4. Family Farm
  5. Unpleasant Breakfast
  6. Heavy Covenant
  7. The Prior Procedure
  8. Riptown
  9. Me & Magdalena
  10. Hanover Camera
  11. Parade Days (Bonus Track)

Year End Lists

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Added on: December 1, 2020