The turns they took to get here have been circuitous indeed (via Nottingham and Limousin, no less), but Tindersticks’ first album in five years feels, in many ways, as exciting as a first release. A pared-down return to the original three-man line up of Stuart A. Staples, David Boulter and Neil Fraser is, paradoxically, indicative of the sea change that the band’s lengthy hiatus has brought about.
The bulk of the The Hungry Saw was recorded in just eight days, in a flurry of creative activity which left the band with surplus material for the first time. Stuart says of the experience: “It’s the first time we’ve ever had too many songs: it could have been a longer album, but we had to be ruthless.” The same old melancholic wit is still there, but from track to track the sound is more varied and than you might be used to on a Tindersticks album.
The whimsical guitar on ‘The flicker of a little girl’ is verging on breezy at points, although lines such as “Too many teardrops you held inside / They were always gonna pour over me someday” keeps us well inside the Tindersticks‘ range. The album’s title track is resplendently dressed in brass and sits comfortably on what can only be called an upbeat melody featuring organ-playing and lackadaisical whistling. All this is beautifully juxtaposed with talk of cracking bones and “Those devil’s hands…”, ominously skirting the edges of the record.
Desolate, stripped bare and stunning, this album feels like the deadpan heart and soul of five years distilled into 45 minutes.
Words: Helen True