Tindersticks – The Waiting Room

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One of the great things about Tindersticks is that they’re not afraid to rummage through their back catalogue, pick out an old idea, and fashion something new from it. On 2012’s The Something Rain, they began with a spoken-word, story-telling track that was reminiscent of ‘My Sister’ from their second album. Here, there are a couple of Stuart Staples duets that create echoes of ‘Travelling Light’, again from their second album. One of these duets is with Jehnny Beth of Savages and it’s pretty tough as well you might imagine. More remarkably, the other features Lhasa de Sela, who died in January 2010. You’d expect it to be a morbid affair, but it’s a light, playful, and endearing composition. In fact, if you listen closely enough you can almost hear de Sela stifling a giggle when she responds to one of Staples’ more exaggeratedly louche propositions. As a tribute, it’s a really nice one. While variations on the past are usually the sure sign of a band suffering from artistic exhaustion, it never feels that way here. Maybe they’re still shellshocked from scoring the various battles of Ypres in 2014, but this is a gentler Tindersticks than on their two most recent conventional outings. There were a number of urgent tracks on both Falling Down A Mountain and The Something Rain, but here there’s a more relaxed, mellow, and soulful sound throughout. Yet it’s still the same old Stuart Staples. With moments of wistfulness, “Were we once lovers?”, wisdom, “We can only hurt each other the way that lovers can”, and tenderness, “With his hair combed, He stood in the doorway, Like a lost dog holding his missing poster”, there’s a welcome familiarity to the themes. Timeless. Like Tindersticks themselves.

This is always a really exciting time. A whole year of new releases to be anticipated. We know there’s material forthcoming from Villagers, Eleanor Friedberger, Andrew Bird, Dylan Leblanc, Shearwater, Tindersticks, Lucinda Williams, Sun Kil Moon, and Damien Jurado. There are also rumours of albums from Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, Robert Ellis, and PJ Harvey. That’s a good start. But there’s much more to hope for. Last year, I was really lucky. Right at the top of my 2015 list was music from Elvis Perkins and Sufjan Stevens and both were kind enough to oblige. So, artists, if you are listening, here’s my wish list for 2016 – Bill Callahan, Phosphorescent, Richmond Fontaine, Anais Mitchell, John Vanderslice, Bon Iver, Kathleen Edwards, Kate Bush, Grizzly Bear and/or Department of Eagles, David Vandervelde, Neko Case, Emmy The Great, Ryan Adams, Feist, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, Fionn Regan, Fleet Foxes, and, of course, Kramies. Do please oblige. In the meantime, here is the great one with his classic ‘Sea Otter Cottage’.

Lambchop – Mr. M

 Tindersticks – The Something Rain

Tindersticks - The Something Rain

Two albums. Two different sounds. Mr. M, strings and bass-led. The Something Rain, synths, guitar and, occasionally, sax-driven. Two albums. Two personalities. Kurt Wagner. Languid, almost langorous. Stuart Staples. Deep, soulful, sometimes urgent. Two albums. Two masters. Both totally in control of their compositions. Both creating a full, rich, lush sound. Two albums that are not afraid to linger. Lambchop’s ‘Nice Without Mercy’ just dwells. That next note. Will it ever arrive? 10 minutes into the Tindersticks album and still no sign of Stuart Staples. When will he appear? Two albums that sound just beautiful. An orchestration. A soundtrack. And yet. And yet. There are problems. Life for Lambchop and Tindersticks might sound beautiful, but living can never be. Kurt Wagner has lost people. Vic Chesnutt is a presence throughout. And Stuart Staples is constantly searching. On ‘Frozen’, he repeats and repeats ‘If I could just hold you’. He means it. This is the tension that makes these two albums so great. If life was simple, easy, we’d just wallow in the wash of the sound and then move on. It isn’t. That’s why these albums last.

Lambchop official site

Tindersticks official site