Tindersticks

The Waiting Room

City Slang

Jan 21, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Bookmark and Share


For their eleventh studio album (including the re-recordings for 2013's retrospective Across Six Leap Years), Tindersticks further redraw a sound that has previously touched on chamber pop, soul, lounge jazz, and other areas. The first song written for the album, "Help Yourself," is funkier than usual for the band, with singer Stuart Staples talking through much of his vocals as the players settle into an alternate version of the tight Stax Records sound, placing horns largely at the fore. With that at roughly the album's center, a gentle, evocative cover of the instrumental "Follow Me" from 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty serves as its opener.

As the album unfolds, it proves to be much closer in tone to the lead-off theme than their looser detour. It's hard to find a band more moving at exploring longing, loss, and despair than Tindersticks, and The Waiting Room is such a vehicle. "How can I care if it's the caring that's killing me?" sings Stuart Staples on "Were We Once Lovers?" An insistent beat and bass are punctuated by electric piano and piercing guitar as Staples' echoing vocals sound like that of a lost soul.

"We Are Dreamers!" finds the singer joined by Jehnny Beth of Savages, with the music's ominous tone suggesting that the sung title is a declaration of all they have left. The late Lhasa de Sela, a close friend of Staples', recorded her duet vocals for "Hey Lucinda" prior to her 2010 death, and its glockenspiel-and-accordion backing add poignancy to the lyrics and broader context: "Hey Lucinda, you come out drinking with me tonight/The summer's almost gone."

The warmer "How He Entered" is such a comparative brush of lightness that, when its strings and horns and detailed spoken narrative come along, the departure feels unexpectedly welcome, though still wholly in character. It's also a reminder of how Tindersticks are well capable of bringing light into the Roomwhen they're ready. (www.tindersticks.co.uk)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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