The raver kids won’t leave the party

The Hold Steady return with more tales from the after-party on ‘Boys and Girls in America’

When asked if he had heard the new album “Boys and Girls in America,” a die-hard Hold Steady fan responded, “My friends and I got drunk and made a bong out of a pop can and danced to it until 4 a.m. at some apartment on Lake Street! It was sweet!!”

The Hold Steady lyricist Craig Finn could not have penned a better scenario himself.

Ever since fronting local synth-rock legends Lifter Puller and now Hold Steady, Finn’s songwriting aesthetic has centered around a fictitious world, partly resembling Minneapolis.

His mythical Twin Cities are populated by bored Midwestern kids who see no problem making their personal revolutions and revelations come a little quicker with cheap booze, sweaty dancing and screwing the nearest person willing and holding.

“Boys and Girls in America” suggests this world of decadence and sin even before the first listen. The album cover features a blur of confetti and colored lights obscuring the plethora of bodies in full party mode. No identity is clearly distinguished, just a sea of restless, anonymous souls who never want to go home.

“Stuck Between Stations” opens the album by acknowledging the faceless: “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together / dependent, undisciplined and sleeping late.” Fist-pumping guitar licks and driving piano worthy of the rock bands of old gives the disheartened kids some hope. By the time Finn laments of drinking oneself dry and drowning in the Mississippi, however, Finn makes it clear the party can’t last forever.

As with the Hold Steady’s two previous efforts, “Boys and Girls in America” paints a portrait where the beer flows like wine, the girls look pretty but can play plenty nasty, the drugs are changing and everyone just wants to indulge as much as possible before school starts or mom and dad come home.

Finn makes a vivid, slightly tragic cast of characters come alive.

While the Hold Steady’s brand of E. Street Band-indebted rock comes ready to storm an arena-sized audience, his words speak to a dive bar crowd of 12, shelling peanuts and

measuring their days by the pint. He is a poet for the common people, one of the best lyricists in rock not just for his wit and humility, but for his willingness to address the underdogs.

“We all kind of fumbled through the jitterbug / we were all powered up on some new upper drug / everyone was partying, and everyone was

pretty / and everyone was coming towards the center of the city,” Finn catcalls in his trademark speak-sing. “Massive Nights” is a perfect summary of the epic, yet dwindling, bash that is “Boys and Girls in America.”

The Hold Steady slathers the verse in unabashed rock ‘n’ roll, but Finn makes the album less about showing off your bruises and more about explaining what you went through to get them.

Unlike what the title of their 2004 debut “The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me” suggests, “Boys and Girls in America” wants to save your life, or at least have your back through the evening.

Finn’s portraits can sometimes be harsh and unflattering, but he does it all with a sincerity rarely seen in music today.