It was at last year’s Reading Festival that I realised The Hold Steady were one of the best bands in the world.

And you really have to be a proper miserable git, or stone-deaf, to not see how the Steady work.

It’s E Street Band Springsteen routed through Husker Du’s amps – it’s pints held aloft, shout along choruses. It’s an unbeatable formula.

Lead singer Craig Finn is a top storyteller and breakthrough album Boys and Girls in America – their third – is stocked full of quirky tales of lost youth along with struggles to still get high.

The band focuses on disappointed souls, who embrace sex, gambling, drink and drugs in an attempt to get some sunshine in their lives.

The new record Stay Positive is true to form.

“It’s always interesting how a record reveals itself to you,” says Finn.

“You can go with best-laid plans, but there is always a fair amount of uncertainty.

“Late night brainstorms become defining moments. Accidents become choruses. You might write the record, but it ends up teaching you something about yourself.”

This writer’s favourite track – Sequestered in Memphis – is as good as anything the band has written. Sure to be a live hit, while Constructive Summer and Lord I’m Discouraged are for iPod.

“I think this record, musically and lyrically, is about the attempt to age gracefully. This is no easy feat, especially in rock and roll,” explained Finn.

“I’m now 37. At the age of 30 I was working in an office, thinking my rock band days were behind me. Last summer we opened for the Rolling Stones.”

Finn knows the loyalty his band sparks from the growing fanbase.

“A great American philospher D. Boon once said: ‘Our band could be your life’. I think that is true. But ‘Your life could our band’ is also a true statement. I know this because we have lived it.”

The Hold Steady play Oxford Carling Academy on Monday. The album Stay Positive is out now.