Falling Down a Mountain - Tindersticks Album Review
I have a confession to make - Tindersticks have evaded my radar since their formation some two decades ago and I am now asking myself the question (before you do) - how? With several albums and a few admittedly impressive moments on each, still no cigar. Time to start smoking - pass me the new album.
Having heard a couple of sample tracks from singles and plenty of one of their previous opus ('Curtains'), this Nottingham band have obviously carved a small notch in my memory bank in the past, just not enough to shoe-horn a tenner from my wallet into the nearest record-shop till - until now. I had already heard the rather rocky 'Black Smoke' via their new label 4AD's website and I was suitably impressed to pick this up. It certainly sounds like this unique London-based imprint has struck gold with this, the 8th album from Stuart Ashton Staples and his whisky-soaked bluestronica specialists.
The opening title track is a slow burner in much the same way as a 6-minute opener could be - no hit single here, just moody tones and muted trumpets weaving their way into a layered build-up that sets the tone but not the precedent. 'Come on baby, catch me - falling down a mountain' might not sound like the jolliest of starter for ten (ners) but I'm already hooked and it's a cracking start. It's the soundtrack to the type of film epitomized by 'No Country For Old Men' - desolate, intense and never letting up. Damn good.
'Keep You Beautiful' and 'Factory Girls' are examples of why music is so important in life - pretty lullabies sung with more feeling than a million Tube buskers and the axis for the rest of the album to spin around. They also do joyous (of sorts) - the single-in-waiting 'Harmony Round My Table' is a killer tune. Imagine the verse from 'Kids In America' (Kim Wilde tune, go with me on this) mixed with a Motown backing track befitting Martha Reeves and you have a slinky little handclap-powered trail-blazer. Just HOW did they slip past me for all these years?
The 'Peanuts' song is eccentric, not surprising with the reclusive lyricism of Mary Margaret O'Hara at the helm. It could be a Velvet Underground song a la 'I'm Sticking With You' but for the resonating baritone of Staples keeping it together replete with strings. Nut allergy sufferers should sign right here - you'll be wolfing them down after this.
The obvious reference point for Staple's voice is Nick Cave which comes to the fore on 'She Rode Me Down', a sort of sub-Mariachi Western soundtrack laced with flutes and trumpets and the sound of another bottle of bourbon being cracked open. 'Hubbard's Hill' rounds off the filmic feel of the album - an instrumental that hovers like a may-fly and shimmers like an oasis in the desert and certainly borrows from Philip Glass in places.
500 words later and I'm not done with this glorious album - but you might be, so I will sum up. As a Tindersticks newcomer, I urge you to pick this sultry little number up and let it soundtrack your cold nights in and your warm nights out. No need for those cigars after all.
- Thu 24th Oct 2013 TindersticksVicar Street (Dublin)Buy Tickets
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