The story of Tindersticks is that of a bittersweet disappointment, a group that could have reigned at the peak of the independent scene with an arty spirit, but rather began to fade away. After three excellent first works—two self-titled, in 1993 and 1995, and “Curtains” (1997) – the group fell into a creative abyss. Their attempt to grab onto soul, “Simple Pleasure” (1999) and “Can Our Love” (2001), didn’t take, and the band ended up breaking up fairly noiselessly in 2003. “It was a very painful period”, explains the British band . “But those hard decisions were the right ones. Our music has mutated into something different now”. In effect, the return of the group with “The Hungry Saw” (2008), and especially with “Falling Down A Mountain” (2010), showed new shine, a revitalised spirit.
With “The Something Rain”, the men led by Stuart A. Staples (voice and guitar, in this case also producer) show that they are serious. Half of the group has fallen by the wayside: those left are David Boulter (keyboards and percussion) and Neil Fraser (electric guitar), and joining the adventure are Terry Edwards (trumpet) and Andy Nice (cello). But this last work allows them to grow, with an eye on the qualities that made them great: that intense, dreamy orchestral pop with super-dark lyrics and atmospheres, soothed by their leader’s gigantic voice. Also, the inclusion of new members opens up possibilities unexplored before, such as male-female plays of voices (Gina Foster) on “This Fire Of Autumn.”
The album’s big surprise is in the first cut, “Chocolate”: an exercise in spoken word lasting almost 10 minutes, intended as a sequel to “My Sister” (1995), in which Boulter’s voice (in a facet that should perhaps be explored more) struggles with repetitive guitar and keyboard rhythms, and sets out a story of amorous encounters and mix-ups with a surprising ending that reflects the group’s peculiar sense of humour —sombre, absurd, and ironic. The intensity and instrumental explosions of “Show Me Everything” and hallucinogenic jazz lulled by Staples’ desperate laments in “Medicine” and “Frozen” mark the high points of the album, which ends with a very suggestive instrumental piece ( “Goodbye Joe”).
At times in this ninth album, Tindersticks reminds us of their best period. That baroque music with poetic vignettes that are just a bit dreadful is not suitable for every palate (or situation), but it can become a necessary, almost medicinal company for many of them. It is also true that the 26th April, 2011 release of “Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009”, a conscientious compendium of the recordings that the Nottingham group has made for the Parisian director’s films bears witness to something that has always dogged the group: their music is inevitably cinematic—their work only takes on complete meaning when it is accompanied by images. In this sense, we have nine songs here that are ideal for listening to while we watch “Twin Peaks”, the films of Jim Jarmusch, or those of Wong Kar-wai.