Friday, 7 March 2008

Album review - Tindersticks - 'The Hungry Saw'

If I’m out on the corner hustling, or just walking around town with a chip on my shoulder, looking for trouble, I like to crank up my 40GB iRiver E-140 series mp3 player. Probably I’ll be playing an album that fits my mood – or that takes that mood and amps it up to the power of ten, or even to the max. Something true and bad-ass like The Hungry Saw, the new album from Nottingham’s Tindersticks, would fit the bill.

Tindersticks are O.G.s in the maudlin string-laden embittered-indie game, and wrote the rulebook for young hoppers like Absentee and the National. They recently lost some members due to internal beef, but that’s not addressed on the Hungry Saw. Instead the three-piece asks you to walk a mile in the shoes of mumbling baritone-voiced singer Stuart A. Staples. Trust me – it ain’t pretty. Staples is on some grown man business from the get-go as he airs out past regrets, loves, and losses. On the title track he even goes one-on-one with the Big Man himself – by which I mean the Devil!

Musically, this is Tindersticks’ most stripped-down and intimate release: it has little of the expansive dissonance of Golden Era ‘sticks (circa 94-00), the for-the-ladies seventies-soul stylings of later releases like Simple Pleasure and Can Our Love, or the barbed lyrics of their most intense work. At times the band comes across as slightly reserved, and they only cut loose and break the five-minute barrier on closing lament ‘The Turns We Took’. But this also works as a good introduction to their core sound: the deceptively-breezy ‘Flicker Of A Little Girl’, the barely-there reminiscences of ‘The Other Side Of The World’ and the building tension of 'Boobar' all take it right back to the essence, while simultaneously raising the game on their pale imitators. (B)

Tindersticks – ‘The Other Side Of The World’

Buy The Hungry Saw

Myspace (where 'The Flicker..' is streaming)

Previously on GMS:

Swing incongruity with those pesky Tindersticks

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