Simple Pleasure

They got rhythm; they got soul; they got a newfound pop sensibility. Yes indeed, folks, Tindersticks are back and they're better than ever. It seems that Stuart Staples & Co. have finally had enough of life in the lonely bedsit and have decided to come out and face the world.

They got rhythm; they got soul; they got a newfound pop sensibility. Yes indeed, folks, Tindersticks are back and they're better than ever. It seems that Stuart Staples & Co. have finally had enough of life in the lonely bedsit and have decided to come out and face the world.

Current single and album opener, 'Can We Start Again?', is a case in point. The bassline nags and niggles at the corners of the cranium, the strings probe and prod, while Staples' vocals are more to the fore than in days of yore as, instead of calling it a day on a relationship, he wants another chance to make it work. Hmmm, slightly upbeat sentiments from Tindersticks - I never thought I'd see the day.

'Pretty Words' proves that they can still pen a torch ballad par excellence when the mood takes them; its sparse arrangement provides the perfect backdrop for Staples, who sounds like a bleary- and teary-eyed 50-something who has spent his life married to Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Arthur Guinness and Paddy Power. Similarly, 'If She's Torn' tugs at the heartstrings other bands can't reach.

The revelation, though, is their cover of the old Odyssey hit, 'If You're Looking For A Way Out'. Actually, cover seems too weak a word, as the old disco standard is completely transformed into a pin-droppingly tender, achingly gorgeous and kinda kitch ballad, with Staples imploring "Kiss me again cos I'm trying to keep you from running away".

The stupendous 'I Know That Loving' takes on a gospel shimmer, gradually building in intensity to a glorious crescendo - Staples has never sounded so downright emotional. And while his vocals are a huge part of what makes Tindersticks work, the music throughout Simple Pleasure is never short of superb: the strings and brass combining well, but never being allowed to take over, while David Boulter's exquisite Hammond organ adds an extra dimension and Mark Colwill's bass provides the deep-down swing at the heart of the songs.

Tindersticks haven't lost the black suits in favour of bermuda shorts just yet. It's just that, with Simple Pleasures, Staples and Co. seem to have finally conceded that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't necessarily the headlights of an oncoming train.

 

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