"The Hungry Saw" by Tindersticks
Five years after the mildly underwhelming Waiting For The Moon, Tindersticks is half the band it once was, having shed three members. It's hard to hear the difference in scale—per the last 15 years, strings and brass remain constant. But the intensity has been diluted: "Mother Dear" is little more than an organ hum, Walkmen-like drums, and the most jagged guitar solo that the typically unruffled band has ever indulged in. The instrumentals— once grim, grinding affairs—are now acoustic palate-cleaners like "The Organist Entertains," a late-night carnival dance over ethereal string runs. Stuart Staples' vocals remain deep and his lyrics morose, but they're counterbalanced rather than cocooned by the backgrounds. "All The Love" is typically downbeat—five minutes of meditating on divorcées for whom "all the love inside them twisted in hate"— but it's balanced out with a wordless cooing female straight from a Ennio Morricone score. Tindersticks remains a champion at feel-bad soul strings, but those who've found the group's previous work oppressive might want to try again: Staples' vocals haven't changed, but with the music as pared-down as one of their impressionistic soundtracks, it's a new sound.