“A gorgeous, must-have album”

Tindersticks has been a reassuring presence on the British music scene for over two decades, exploring the landscape of human emotions in their own unique classically restrained chamber-pop style. The band led by the sophisticated rich baritone of Stuart Staples, now has a settled line-up after a number of personnel changes following the dissolution of the original members in 2006 (only David Boulter, Neil Fraser and Stuart A. Staples now remain).

The Waiting Room is their eleventh album and is accompanied by a collaborative film project, with each song from the album having a short film commissioned specifically for it. This will be toured with a series of cine-film events including a date pencilled in for the Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall in spring.

The cinematic experience afforded these fine tunes will come as no surprise to long-standing fans, and is an intriguing prospect considering the band’s film noir qualities, and the fact that they have scored music for a number of films in particular for the French director Claire Denis.

The album opens with a beautiful cover of ‘Follow me’, which was originally Bronislau Kaper’s theme from the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. Deftly capturing the essence of the band it’s a perfect opener, and with its subtle strings and deft drumming it sweeps you away in its warm autumnal glow.

This is followed by the abstract, original album opener ‘Second Chance Man’, where Stuart sings in his careworn manner of lost and found moments, and that he is a “second chance man, a last chance man”, all fleshed out by rock, folk, and classical instruments, all subtly and intelligently used to great effect.

‘Were We Once Lovers?’ explores forgotten intimacy and is led by poignant strings and a strong funky bassline. From their early cover version of Otis Redding’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ there has always been soul to the Tindersticks, and this has been complemented by the fine brass arrangements afforded the songs from British jazz luminary Julian Siegel. It is clearly an inspired choice and never better signified then on the mighty ‘Help Yourself’, one of their finest songs in many a year. With splashes of brass and shaking maracas it envelops you in its funky throws.

‘Hey Lucinda’ features the late Lhasa de Sela, a close friend and creative ally of Stuart Staples who sadly lost her life to cancer in 2010. Before her death, when she was fit and well, they recorded her singing for ‘Hey Lucinda’ together. It’s a fitting tribute to Lhasa and a particular highlight on a strong album.

The album takes a slower pace with the spoken word ‘How He Entered’ and the sombre ‘The Waiting Room’, before the penultimate Jehnny Beth from Savages adorned ‘We are dreamers’, with its distorted guitar effects and driving rhythms. It’s a rawness of sound that harks back to their early years and is clear evidence of a band creatively alive and at the peak of their powers.

The album ends with the lush dream-like ‘Like Only Lovers Can’, all tinkling keys, casually strummed acoustic guitars and a fine vocal croon from Stuart Staples. It provides an epic end to a gorgeous must-have album.

Release Date 22/01/2016 (City Slang)

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Jonathan Roby

Overgrown indie kid with a penchant for americana, psych and weird folk.