Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Album review: TINDERSTICKS - The Something Rain

Highlights: Show Me Everything, This Fire Of Autumn, A Night To Still, Medicine

It is both daring and fascinating – to open your album with a spoken word piece. Particularly a long one, particularly one so disturbing and bizarre as “Chocolate”, a tale of a man who suddenly realises (when it’s already too late) that the one he is having sex with is not actually a woman but a transvestite. It’s an engaging enough story, and it’s got a tasteful nocturnal groove swirling in the background. Well, imagine White Light/White Heat starting with “The Gift”… It’s not the most accurate comparison, but I hope you get the idea.

The Something Rain is all about grooves. Classic Tindersticks grooves: slow, dismal, beautiful. But behind all that there’s incredible intensity in the form of Stuart Staples’ frail, miserable croon and understated yet extremely effective melodies. The thing is very smartly, intricately arranged (it actually never sounds overproduced), and features an impressive variety of instruments, from saxes to violins to pianos to pretty diverse percussion.

In terms of actual songs, The Something Rain is a consistent piece. Perhaps there’s nothing of “Travelling Light” or “City Sickness” quality (the hooks are not that strong), but the second the moody, understated sounds of “A Night To Still” roll in, gently and almost inconspicuously, you know you’re in Tindersticks Heaven. A rather miserable place, frankly, but still worth a visit or two. Particularly considering how it keeps unfurling its charms with further listens. The biggest highlight is probably the grim, gorgeous, violin-heavy “Medicine”. I’d admit that the album loses me towards the end (for all its prettiness, “Come Inside” seems overlong and uneventful), but overall it stands well against the band’s classic releases.

If you are a newcomer, I don’t think this could make you a fan (I would suggest starting with the brilliant compilation Working For The Man), but if you are already one – well, this is basically all you could ask for at this stage.  


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