With no Dickon Hinchcliffe, Al Macaulay or Mark Colwill, Tindersticks 2008 are a very different beast to the classic sextet that beguiled audiences and listeners through the nineties and early noughties. The band’s trademark melancholic mixture of Bad Seeds balladeering, classic Hazlewood / Walker Brothers pop, sweet soul and Cohen-esque brooding remains intact. If anything, they sound sparkier now than they ever have in the past, although that is always relative when a band is led by the lugubrious, doleful vocals of Stuart Staples. There is a definite sunniness to much of the music, though, most obviously apparent on such songs as “The Flicker of a Little Girl” and the title track.
The Hungry Saw has a hell of a catalogue to live up to. That it doesn’t quite measure up to albums like Tindersticks II or the misery-fest that was Can Our Love… is not altogether surprising. The instrumentals “Introduction” (three minutes of piano tinkling), “E-Type” (not strictly an instrumental, but wordless nevertheless) and “The Organist Entertains” do seem like filler, and one or two of the other tunes aren’t that memorable.
Unsurprisingly, the album’s strongest cuts are those enveloped in cinematic misery. “The Other Side of the World” is gorgeously bleak. “Mother Dear” is understated , but with some surprisingly abrasive guitar from Neil Fraser. “Boobar” is destined to become one of the group’s most loved songs, and “The Turns We Took” is an epic return to the seventies soul balladeering that is an equivalent to their 2001 masterpiece “Chilitetime”.
The Hungry Saw may not quite be peak Tindersticks, but it’s no let down either. They really are a unique band who have no peers when it comes to this kind of heartstring-tugging pop, rock or whatever you want to call it.
1 Intro 3:30
2 Yesterday Tomorrows 3:46
3 The Flicker of a Little Girl 3:28
4 Feel the Sun 2:26
5 E-Type 2:52
6 The Other Side of the World 4:10
7 The Organist Entertains 2:31
8 The Hungry Saw 3:44
9 Mother Dear 4:17
10 Boobar 3:56
11 All the Love 4:51
12 The Turns We Took 5:30