Tindersticks - Falling Down A Mountain
Stuart A. Staples and two of the original Tindersticks return for album number eight in a career that almost reaches two decades. Since 1992 those smooth baritone vocals have swayed pleasantly over sweeping orchestral sound-scapes in a manner quite unlike anyone else.
Often cited as the inspiration for Vic Reeves' club singer character, it’s clear that Stapes' vocal talents and ability to convey emotion stretch far beyond a comedy impersonation. Due to hit 45 in November of this year he’s always sounded more mature than his actual age so like a Sunday driver going too fast in a residential area and too slow on the motorway, he’s kept to a steady 50 throughout his career.
A significant amount of water may have gone under the bridge since those scratchy early recordings of ‘Patchwork’ and ‘Marbles’ but the Tindersticks songs have remained relatively unchanged. It’s a formula that’s stood the test of time – it works so well it hasn’t needed to be changed and whilst Falling Down a Mountainn might not ascend the dizzy heights of the first two albums, it’s certainly a top-tier-tinderstick-triumph. ‘Factory Girls’ is up there with their finest work, reminiscent of their early material with a signature all of its own. It simply couldn’t have come from anyone else, the gentle piano melody pumps like a breaking heart bleeding sorrow with tinges of hope and beauty.
Duet ‘Peanuts’ sadly isn’t about the Charles M. Schulz characters (well at least I don’t think it is) but the tender male to female interplay searching for compromise is sublime. ‘Harmony Around My Table’ is one of their more upbeat numbers, allowing the tempo to rise and Stuart to push his vocals upwards letting their strength shine through.
As a band that have never really dropped the ball in a solid career of consistently excellent material this is another notch in the bedpost. If you are a fan you won’t be let down by this. Whilst it might be interesting to see what would happen if they attempted a speed-garage direction it’s evident that the world would be a worse place without their majestic crooning.