Release Date: Sep 16, 2008
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
If you were of the opinion that Tindersticks may have gone through some kind of drastic sea change brought on by their five-year hiatus and the absence of founding member and co- architect of their trademark sound, Dickon Hinchliffe, you are dead wrong. The band weathered the storm and on their seventh studio album, The Hungry Saw, the three remaining members of the band retain every last aspect of what made the band special (the inventive arrangements, the cinematic sweep of the songs, Stuart Staples' distinctive vocals) but also manage to sound rejuvenated and fresh at the same time. The last album they made before their split, Waiting for the Moon, seemed like it was just another in a long line of excellent releases by the band.
Sad sack Tindersticks frontman Stuart Staples is one of the few contemporary singers you could imagine Morrissey calling up to say, "Cheer up, mate, it's not so bad." So it's a pleasant surprise to find the Tindersticks lightening things up a bit on The Hungry Saw. Don't count on any bright and sunny party jams, however. This is still mostly a dark and downtempo affair, but at least some swinging grooves are added to the mix along with some sweetly swelling horn and string arrangements to offset Staples's bleaker inclinations.
Some of life's pleasures are unchangeable, if less than overwhelming. Certain herbal teas, a rainy day spent indoors, Eric Rohmer's speed-of-life movies, and Tindersticks nestle together in a zone that's only apparently ascetic. For all the band's miserabilism, Tindersticks' music is crafted to convey slight surges of pleasure and contentment; the dreary weather is there to set these flashes off more.
Nobody said loving Tindersticks was easy. Since 1992, the Nottingham, England, outfit has pursued a sonic and lyrical palette according to the gray and gold of its elders (Hazlewood, Brel, Gainsbourg, Morricone) with occasional curves thrown into its thoroughly somber and sometimes disturbed arrangements. While other artists (Nick Cave, for example) have followed those roads with thunderous footsteps and an incumbent litany of sad/jealous/hateful lyrics, Tindersticks have walked softly and played in more subtle, noirish tones.
Nottingham’s Tindersticks draw on a broad range of influences (from Nick Drake and Scott Walker to Dusty In Memphis and Barry White) with poignant depth, cinematic sweep and enviable perfectionism. That’s great and all, but doesn’t quite explain what has made the band (active since 1994 and always seemingly on the verge of disappearing) so eccentric and endearing. Tindersticks have always stood out from the attention-deficient British music scene by virtue of their humanism.