Published Jan 20, 2016Over the course of a career now spanning 25 years and 11 albums, Tindersticks have proven themselves reigning masters of melancholy. The combination of rich layered instrumentation, carefully orchestrated strings and Stuart Staples' evocative vocals give feelings of loss and loneliness a cinematic grandeur, yet their consistently strong recordings never lapse into sentimental excess. That is a balancing act few can manage, and the group pull it off yet again here.
They set the scene perfectly with an opening instrumental, "Follow Me," one whose gently swelling strings invite the listener to follow Tindersticks on what becomes an enchanting journey. The group's signature sound remains, but unorthodox arrangements and instrumentation keep things interesting. For instance, "Second Chance Man" begins sparsely and at a snail's pace until brassy horns give it an adrenaline boost. Horns return atop a vaguely African rhythm on cool cut "Help Yourself," a song featuring Staples in an unusually light-hearted vein. Jehnny Beth of Savages guests on "We Are Dreamers," while "How He Entered" is moody spoken word atop more rich orchestration.
The stone cold killer track here is "Hey Lucinda," a duet featuring the transcendent and gorgeous voice of late great Canadian songstress Lhasa (a close friend of Staples). Horns, strings and woodwinds complement the pairing of their two distinctive voices, while lyrics like "I only dance to remember how dancing used to feel" add poignancy. If this doesn't move you, take your heart off the organ donor list. (City Slang)