Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Album Review: Tindersticks – Tindersticks [II]

Tindersticks released their second self-titled album in 1995, the [II] was inserted by me for the sake of differentiating it from their first album.  At a measly 16 tracks and a mere 70 minutes it’s seven minutes shorter than its predecessor, mostly eschewing short interludes to create arguably a more focused album.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s certainly the equal of their debut.  El Diablo en el Ojo sets the scene, all brooding vocals and foreboding atmospheres.  A run of three really strong songs follows.  The breathlessly moody A Night In kicks it off, Stuart Staples singing “I know you’re hurting and I won’t be there for you” over swooning strings.  The more playful, spoken word My Sister follows on before the hugely dramatic Tiny Tears, a tale of “lying in bed for a week now” before the sweeping chorus of “tiny tears make up an ocean.”
The album really peaks with these three songs and it would be understandable if it failed to replicate these highs.  But here, the good songs keep on coming, too numerous to list here but I’ll mention two more of them:  The muted No More Affairs is sparser than many of the tracks here, giving Staples’ baritone loads of space to breathe.  Another high point is Travelling Light, Stuart Staples duetting with Carla Torgensen of the Walkabouts to great effect.
All these tracks are underpinned by a really good band of musicians on an album that conjures up a world of its own.  So not the most unbiased review then, but if you’re wondering what Tindersticks are about, you could start here.