Tindersticks vocalist Stuart Staples is the mumbling singer who evokes an exceptional atmosphere when he is accompanied by smooth melancholy orchestrations. The poetic lyrics of the often difficult songs invigorate emotions because the use of the instruments and the intonation of the orchestra is well attuned with the content of these lyrics. Although Tindersticks have a recognizable sound, they can still be complimented on their diversity of approaches to construct a song. Although the British charts were dominated by Indie Britpop-guitar bands when Tindersticks released their untitled first album in 1993 they already gained much appreciation by the press and a dedicated group of fans. The first album was named Album of the Year by the Melody Maker.
The band from Nottingham started as Asphalt Ribbons featuring Stuart Staples (vocals), David Boulter (keyboard) and Dickon Hinchcliffe. Together with Neil Fraser (guiter), Mark Cornwill (bass) and Al McCauley (drums) these three members formed Tindersticks in the summer of 1992. The members decided they wanted to make music they wanted to play. If people didn't want to hear it, that was fine. This deal resulted in a first single called 'Patchwork' released on their own label, Tippy Toe. This single was followed by 'Marbles', 'A Marriage Made In Heaven' and the Unwired EP. After that the band signed a contract at the This Way Up label. In the summer of 1993 the first Tindersticks album was released.
Tindersticks proves to be an extraordinary band when they record and release two very diverse songs. The first is John Barry's James Bond theme 'We Have All The Time In The World' (a few years later also performed by the Fun Lovin' Criminals) and the Pavement cover 'Here'. They show they haven't got a problem playing which song whatsoever. The second Tindersticks album is also untitled. This release brought the band in 1995 to higher stages. The single 'No More Affairs' is a success in the alternative scene supported by the tremendous video showing a big ballroom where the band plays for just one couple dancing to the melodies. When the intensity of the song strengthens, the ballroom is all of a sudden full of couples performing the same dance.
Live shows by the Tindersticks are very special because they can bring the same atmosphere like on the albums and the audience also responds to it. Like a friend of me told me once after seeing this band: "I looked around and I saw many grown men just cry and it was just like the music was all that existed at the moment. I've never seen something like this before". In Holland their performance in the Melkweg in Amsterdam was chosen as the #2 best concert of the year 1995 (the Belgian band dEUS was number one so there's nothing to be ashamed of). The second Tindersticks album appeared on nearly every British Top Ten list of the Best of 1995. In November of 1995 the group released the live album Bloomsbury Theatre (with orchestra).
After releasing a soundtrack for the Claire Danes movie 'Nenette Et Boni' the band starts recording a new album called Curtains. The great expectations of the record company, the fans and especially the band itself causes a lot of headaches involved with the recording, re-mixing, re-recording, etc. But when the album is finished, Fraser admits that 'I think it's the first time we've actually made a complete album that runs smoothly'. Stuart Staples tells that the ultimate Tindersticks-sound as meant in the beginning has been reached and the next album will sound different because it's time to do something else.
But first the album Curtains. It's a sixteen track album starting with the beautiful 'Another Night In' (on the second Tindersticks album there was already a song called 'A Night In) and the song is the introduction of an impressive album with a diversity of high quality songs. Two singles are taken from it: 'Rented Rooms' and 'Traveling Light', a duet with the Walkabouts' Carla Torgerson. But Curtains isn't an album with real singles on it. You've got to listen to the album as a whole. And that's also the case with the new Tindersticks-album:
Tindersticks - Simple Pleasure
The band announced to do something different from the past albums on Simple Pleasure and in a certain way they did. On this album the band picks up their own instruments and don't make much use of the little orchestra's we're used to. 'Can We Start Again' is the first song of the album and also the first single. The up-tempo song starts with a normal acoustic guitar and Stuart Staples is supported by some background vocals. We also hear some female soulsingers on 'I Know That Loving'. And the album only contains nine songs. So when we ask ourselves has anything changed? The answer is Yes. But still the original and unique sound of the Tindersticks music is kept alive. But that's not hard with the recognizable dark voice of Stuart Staples that makes this nightclub-music sound gloomy. Songs like 'Looking For A Way Out' and 'If She's Torn' are even some the best things Tindersticks has ever brought us. What more can I say?
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