City Slang (label)
15 November 2019 (released)
15 November 2019
In 1993 Tindersticks’ debut LP crashed, landed and left a lasting, longing imprint on the psyche: drawing on then disparate sources and influences such as Lee Hazlewood and Townes Van Zandt it was an out of the ordinary outlier that still resonates. Head honcho, Stuart Staples has said of that pre-New Labour false consciousness Britpop hypnarcotising time ‘It was a time for British music, almost like a dead spot, there was no overriding dogma, and so it felt like there was freedom and we happened on that time’
Twenty six years on, and that ‘feeling’ is a long gone thing of the past/passed. Pop culture no more than a backdrop and soundtrack to omnivorous grazing, all trough no treat. Fast-forward consumption has no time for prolonged, context-bound effectuations of artistry, preferring the ‘medium is the massage’ machinations of technology’s seductive allure.
However, these Nottingham mellow-dramatics (mainstays Staples, David Boulter and Neil Fraser) display no signs of this weariness, on ‘No Treasure But Hope’ delivering more love and ‘love’ songs, erudite, coded, implicitly explicit examinations on existence, all cloaked (and daggered) in lush orchestral manoeuvres of the dark, shining light on the unlit, casting clarity on the submerged, latent emotions that lurk within us all. Recorded, produced and mixed in five weeks it’s a slo-mo noir desir laced with rumination and meditation: up-beating and down-lifting, a ‘there’s always a silver lining’ attitude allied to the band’s cut-above chicken in a basket cabaret virtues.
The group have always exuded a filmic quality, rich, vivid sounds and panoramic textures that have seen French auteur Claire Denis employ/deploy their work (2018’s science-fiction film ‘High Life’).
Staples’s voice never strains or stretches, he coaxes his elliptical economical verbiage from his innards, he yearns, he swoons, he spurns, he moons. Pure poetry in (e)motion.
Opener, the elegiac ‘For the beauty’ is articulated anguish, a spectacle of wonder enough to ‘bring me to my knees’, Staples’s hushed under/overtones ushering in a symphonic tonic. ‘The Amputees’ is positively prosaic, the jaunty sounds at odds with the plaintive cries of prolonged longing; a lost limb a reminder of absence. ‘Pinky in the daylight’ is a delicately balanced ballad (awash with Greekish hues – Staples lives on the Mediterranean island of Ithaca), as the band coo ‘Yeah …I love you’, it’s clear this one is for keeps.
‘The Old Man’s Gait’ tells of those inherited traits and atavistic mannerisms, the unconscious mimicking that gets passed down generations, it gives fresh meaning to ‘you walk in your father’s shoes’.
Believe in hope. Sometimes it's all there is.