If Tindersticks‘ name hasn’t got your attention their music definitely will. Their eleventh studio album ‘The Waiting Room’ marks the 25th anniversary of the band and of them retaining their soulful, simplistic sound. We settled down to see if our cold January day would become that little bit warmer. Spoiler: Everything felt toasty and bright after listening.
‘Follow Me’ introduces the release perfectly, a tender instrumental track creates a majestic scene with twists and turns to be expected around the corner at each moment. Introducing the dulcet tones of Stuart Staples is ‘Second Chance Man’, a darker, organ supported effort. There’s no big fancy musical effects, just a sophisticated effort captivating the listener into wondering where the next turn will take them.
‘Were We Once Lovers?’ provides a disco vibe to the record which, for some long term fans, may be new territory for them. The melodramatic affair feels fragmented in sound yet this allows a sense of blurred vision of the memories held deep within, linking strongly to the tracks little. Big, bold and brassy is ‘Help Yourself!’ – full blown horn additions, soul vibes overflowing and energy oozing to get you up and dancing. We love the elegance this track holds thanks to the twangy vocal lines of Staples, suiting the backline faultlessly.
There’s always one track which stands out for the right reasons on a release and ‘Hey Lucinda’ does just this. A duet between Staples and Lhasa de Sela sings of how important life is to live for the moment. “Hey Lucinda, come out drinking with me tonight, the summer’s almost gone” is a poignant lyric in particular due to this song being recorded prior to her 2010 death. The sheer beauty of this track is furthered by Sela’s heartfelt and how memories became harder to remember and hold onto. In the context of the personal situation you can’t help but feel emotional when listening to this track.
‘How He Entered’ is the spoken word number which Tindersticks provide fans with on nearly all their albums. Lyrically is where our attention is placed, Staples bringing something new to a cluttered scene of dull and overused metaphors. Lines such as “with his hair combed he stood in the doorway/like a lost dog holding his missing poster” paint an image within the mind of the listener creating a connection and adding a personal touch to the track. We love that the minimalist approach of Tindersticks has been completely perfected across their career, sticking with their unique sound yet continuing to make each release different with new musical touches.
Nearing the end of the record, another instrumental in the form of ‘Planting Holes’ is offered up. A comforting track made with falling rain sounds and a twinkling organ causes a shiver to run down our spine, mesmerising us via the simplest of ways. We’re clearly very easily pleased…
Providing another duet is ‘We Are Dreamers!’ featuring Savages’ Jehnny Beth. A deep, dark and claustrophobic atmosphere develops which reflects upon previous soundtrack work the band have partaken in. Stark, sudden guitar lines takes the mind on a twist-filled ride supported by a gritty drumline manipulating the mind into doubting just where this track will take them.
Closing track ‘Like Only Lovers Can’ has a warm, homely feel rounding off the release in an entrancing manner. The connection to the lyrics he’s singing and feelings he’s expressing makes Staples vocals effort that little more glorious to get your head around. With the releases final lyric being the uncertain “So where do we go?” listeners are left wondering just where will Tindersticks go following on from this flawless release.
Tindersticks are on a progressive journey still, finding new ways to keep older fans hooked and to draw in new listeners. Their captivating sound might not be fancy but screams out with power and passion, two traits which are lacked in many artists nowadays. The Waiting Room might not be mind-blowingly bold but it’s a truly ravishing release which should not be overlooked.
– Nicola Craig
Venue: The Waiting Room
Support Band: City Slang