Tindersticks are still there smouldering away after six accomplished studio albums...
Derryck Strachan 2003-06-06
They may not be setting the world alight anymore but it's nice to see that the Tindersticks are still there smouldering away after six accomplished studio albums. They continue to sit comfortably alongside hardy perennials like Nick Cave, and are almost guaranteed not to produce a duff album.
It's been ten years since the Nottingham-based group released their eponymous debut to universal acclaim. In many ways their endurance has set them free from the vagaries of the pop world. Since leaving behind major label pressures, they seem settled, confident and mature without any of the pejorative associations of the word.
If 2001's Can Our Love... explored the anguished, string-laden urban soul of Curtis Mayfield or Donny Hathaway, Waiting For The Moon is less easy to pin-down.
There are still gorgeous, melancholy grooves like "Until The Morning Comes" or "Sometimes It Hurts". But tracks like "Say Goodbye To The City" extend the atmosphere of brooding paranoia that pervaded the last album to the verge of psychosis via noisier, more angular arrangements.
In fact, though it's Stuart Staples idiosyncratic nasal vocals that take centre stage, the Tindersticks sound hangs on the talents of their arranger Dickon Hinchcliffe. There are few musicians working in pop music with such a panoramic vision or nuanced approach.
Hinchcliffe's instrumentation provides a suitably theatrical backdrop for Staples. It's one of their most dramatic albums, most obviously in the monologue "4.48 Psychosis", and because of that probably one of their most difficult.
That Staples has a penchant for Jacques Brel or Scott Walker has never been more obvious, particularly on the jaunty "Just A Dog". However he carries it off with real pathos and at times almost heroic understatement. Witness "My Oblivion"; even the titlesuggests melodrama and yet its expansive orchestration and metaphysical lyrics seep slowly into the consciousness over repeated listens.
There is no obvious single here to hook new listeners, but this seems somewhat irrelevant. This is just what the doctor ordered: another great Tindersticks album.