Album of the month – Tindersticks : The Waiting Room

Tindersticks have been around ever since I first started to take an interest in music back in the early 1990s. Despite that fact, I don’t think I could have recalled more than one of their songs this time last month (and that one song I could remember is only because it played a prominent role in an episode of The Sopranos). I’ve always been aware of their existence, and that they were generally well thought of, but had never got round to seeking out their music.

After reading some positive reviews of their latest album ‘The Waiting Room’, and with January and February proving a pretty fallow time for new music this year, I decided to finally take the plunge into Tindersticks world, and i’m so glad I did. From the atmosphere setting instrumental opener ‘Follow Me’ through to the gentle, dreamlike closer ‘Like Only Lovers Can’ almost every note is essential.

It’s hard to pick out highlights when I love almost every track, but I’ll give it a go. ‘Second Chance Man’ is glorious, full of luscious brass, like a more fragile Matthew E White. ‘Were We Once Lovers’ has an almost funk like rhythm and is centred around the devastating repeated line “How can I care if it’s care if it’s the caring that’s killing me?”. ‘How He Entered’ is a perfect, poignant spoken-word piece. ‘We Are Dreamers’ is a duet with Jehnny from Savages, full of menace and anger. But perhaps my favourite of all is ‘Hey Lucinda’, another duet with the now sadly deceased Lhasa de Sela. A  woozy ballad, with glockenspiel, brass, woodwind and accordion accompanying near perfect lyrics. Lyrics never read as well on paper as they sound when heard, but you’ll have to trust me that when de Sela sings “I could drink all this body could hold, but for the fear that I might fall over and break these brittle bones” shivers will run down you spine.

Tindersticks may never appeal to everyone, lead singer Stuart Staples’ voice is an unusual one, and some won’t get on with it. If you do, however, you will find ‘The Waiting Room’ a perfect little world, like walking into some classic black and white movie of which you’d somehow never heard. Now to go and investigate the rest of Tindersticks back catalogue and see what other delights are to be found.

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