Tindersticks know their craft, and can execute it with finesse.
Al Fox 2008-04-24
Oddly, it seems brooding neo-indie veterans are feeling the threat of the credit crunch just as much as conglomerate behemoths. Tindersticks have undertaken a stark restructure, essentially halving the band and leaving a stripped-bare, unfussy take on proceedings.
Of course, pie charts and dollar signs haven't driven such a move, more an attempt to simplify the Nottingham collective's sound for their first album together in five years. For such a rudimentary endeavour, it's surprisingly refined. Stomach the unrelentingly morose introduction, and you're halfway to finding that out for yourself.
Their distinguishing vibe has escaped from the smoky lounge and made its way up a frosty hillside, where gazing into the middle distance is mandatory, and the very concept of melody is passé. Faintly harsh, perhaps, but there is a positive to be unearthed from this. The Hungry Saw is a complex and highly introspective venture, and makes no bones about it: This is an album for Tindersticks, by Tindersticks, and steadfastly refuses to stray from this.
Resultantly, it proves somewhat unforgiving territory for ears not accustomed to the cult of Tindersticks. Yet for those who feared Waiting For The Moon was the irrevocable swansong, The Hungry Saw will provide a welcome return. Incidentally, it's this material which The Hungry Saw takes its command from – while the band's musical path has remained relatively linear (within their own sub-genre, at least), their more melancholic latter period continues to play out here.
You may be required to dig pretty deep to find a level on which to engage with music so heavily maudlin. It would be easy to ascribe – or dismiss – The Hungry Saw with implications of bleak cloudiness or film noir, but look hard enough (on The Other Side of the World or E-type, for example) and it's apparent that the album does carry a veiled tenderness with a very human constituent.
Tindersticks know their craft, and can execute it with finesse. But if you hadn’t already been spellbound by their uniqueness up until this point, it's safe to assume The Hungry Saw will be lost on you altogether.