Review Summary: saxophones, but not like in "Careless Whisper," and missed opportunities
There’s no real point describing “Chocolate” to you when it’s laid so bare itself, but anyway: it feels more like listening to an audio-book drowned out by the sound of your folks listening to lounge music in the next room, or having a good novel ruined by the distracting jazzy shi
t playing on your headphones. As a narrative piece, it tries to engage on the most direct of levels, taking its storytelling as seriously as purists take drone music; this story, told in plain spoken-word, seems to run and run, and its backing track is so caught in the rhythms of the treacly story- a simple night out, but there’s a twist
- that it seems impossible to shake it. It's not for want of trying. “Chocolate” and its story eventually hit a point of no return and the twilight keyboard accompaniment, played as low-key as you like, turns into a musical fit. Note, however, that this isn’t a bridge, and nor is the sax playing a George Michael sax solo, which this slow romantic album could certainly earn; Tindersticks instead play the music like its story, and in the context of it, the song appears to explode in a moment where there’s nothing to say.
“Chocolate” bares little lyrical resemblance to the rest of its album, and instead of delve into an entire album’s worth of maudlin prose and monologues on awful but romantic nights out in Nottingham, The Something Rain
retreats to Staples’ brooding love songs and his penchant for minimising feelings and putting them in a box. “Show Me Everything” is an entirely different performance from “Chocolate,” in this sense- it carries a couple hundred less words, and stacks them line by line- but sounds fitting to follow it because it carries itself in the same way, rotating for Staples like a circle but allowing him to bend and break whenever he so wishes. It’s structurally just as direct and even if it ends with a very different kind of climax, it’s one that remains tied to the ongoing musical motifs. I guess, in a way, that warrants my drone joke: this music isn’t interested in straying from its markers. Also, Staples drones and drones, but anyway: The Something Rain
finds its style in the absence of resonating moments. “Chocolate” specifically decides to waste an opportunity when it's faced with one, using sax to disorientate rather than to reciprocate the sex of the song, and the rest of these songs are just never presented
with an opportunity.
Things only get bolder as Staples gets sadder and more desperate. So much does “This Fire of Autumn” play to its sad clown act, in fact- more than oh, say, Stephin Merritt- that it becomes a track made by desperation piling on top of itself and facing a fall. This tight structure and this mawkish minor-key lend The Something Rain
one of music’s most attractive clichés, offering an album so intent on its songs and its album being as one. I can’t stop thinking about that Beach House interview on Pitchfork, in which Alex Scally noted that their albums all sound the same because they focus on songs as singular moments. What a paradox that is, but The Something Rain
proves it all over again, and it’s a hard thing to describe; none of these songs are entitled to be the album’s best and none of them work towards anything other than creating the quiet, gloomy album that it is. And yet there’s so much of this focus given to each song. Tindersticks refuse to deviate from these keyboard notes and guitar riffs for minutes on end, or as much time as is necessary for the song to swivel around us and sink into our heads. Someone said something about happiness being a sad song. For Staples and Boulter a sad song runs and runs.