The Something Rain

A change is as good as a rest, they say, though following recent lacklustre output, most right-minded Tindersticks fans would probably have conceded that a trip to the vets was the only humane course of action for a band that had brought joy to so many, but was now heading towards infirmity and dribbling. Stuart Staples went off to do his solo thing but couldn’t quite extricate himself fully when the time came, and a band that had been truly loved – revered even – had driven into a boring cul-de-sac of its making. The houses all looked the same, and the roses in the front gardens were wilting, sadly. Devoid of creative ideas, death seemed inevitable, with the ghost of Vic Reeves’ club singer looming large and baying mockingly, and the unfair Diet Bad Seeds tag bestowed on them by detractors, looking like it would do for them what ‘wife beater’ did for Stella Artois.

Everyone loves a story of redemption, though, and Tindersticks, having bolted their Beggars Banquet stable and taken up with City Slang imprint Lucky Dog, had other ideas, showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. It’s a comeback on a par with Lazarus – even better, considering Lazarus disappeared into obscurity soon after his miracle and a quick nosh-up with Jesus. The Something Rain is the sound of a band entirely reinvigorated, like a new band even, bursting with dreamy, soulful, intelligent songs, though you won’t be surprised to learn everything is executed in the most understated way. Tindersticks’ stealthy shift from more indie meanderings into something more soulful is fully realised here, on a tasteful, hypnotic and often moving long player that might just be the best of a twenty year career.

There’s even a hint of glam rock – yes glam rock, your ears aren’t shitting you. ‘Slippin’ Shoes’ takes on mid-recorded-era Roxy Music (after Eno and before ‘Avalon’) and wins, while ‘A Night So Still’ conjures up memories of Suede at their most expansive and unsettling, with more than a hint of ‘The Asphalt World’ consuming it. ‘Show Me Everything’ and ‘Come Inside’ demonstrate a new, warmer inclusiveness and a penchant for sparse, sexy grooves, and ‘Frozen,’ with its free jazz trumpets, becomes more and more hypnotic as Staples cries "if I could just hold you… hold you" over and over again. It’s a remarkable album, made all the more remarkable given the fact the band had been written off by so many. Welcome back Tindersticks. My, haven’t you scrubbed up well?

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