Tindersticks
Tindersticks


5.0
classic

Review

by Ponton EMERITUS
August 14th, 2010 | 128 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Be gentle with your fists, if you can

You controlled her. She controlled you. One night you hit her, almost. Hell that which was a scary night. Then she cheated on you, maybe. You cheated on her back to get even. It was a sticky situation. It was complicated. Now you drink a lot, maybe always have. Right. Let me introduce you to Stuart A. Staples and his band Tindersticks with their 1993 self-titled debut. They’ll help you out.

You can imagine Staples lying back in an old wooden chair, legs propped up on a table, cheap beer in one hand, cigar in another, lazily slanting his head in the direction of a mic, delivering for us with a trembling baritone his stories of woe. Confessionals. Pay attention, man. You may not find another guy so honest, so down to earth, so awfully human in all his deprived sinful glory, in any other place besides Tindersticks. Yeah, he’s that one, the guy that actually did those deeds. But he regrets it.

On twelve cut “Jism”, Staples admits over oddly placed organs that “see I can only take it out on you / there’s no one else that’s around” and later ”if there's ever anyone else, I'll understand / and kill them”. Wow, I feel sorry for that bitch. I think Staples does too. Of course, it’d be harder to sympathize with the lowly bottom-feeder of a singer if Tindersticks’ music was hard, crushing, and abrasive, or even just poorly played – but no. It’s soft and mournful, a delicate chamber pop that is essentially the cornerstone upon which The National would later build their masterpieces in more than a decade’s time to follow. Lucky bastard.

Like the real story that we'd like to think didn’t happen to you, or me, sometimes she wins out, and you don’t. Over the moving sets of light strings and bell dings of sixth track “City Sickness”, Staples sends the girl of interest away at an attempt at self-control, struggling every minute of it: “Sent you away, what else can I do / When I need something that much" / I'm hurting babe . . .” And earlier on “Whiskey & Water”, he reveals that he’s truly a hopeless prisoner to his addictions, ever trying to break free:”Turn my whiskey into water / My cigarettes, I don't know what they taste like.”

Now Staples is hitting a little closer to home, it seems. It’s like he’s almost one of us. Almost. Uh oh. Basically, he is you and me, except having had made all the wrong choices at all the wrong times. Human by definition, even redeemable, they would say. Fine. But that middle ground held by the singer, walking the line between just trying to get by, fighting his desires, and that of just diving head-first into sin, into his addictions, into abuse – “These teeth, they are breaking / As they close around your scruff / You look my way, your smile opens / And I wonder about what comes out.” - makes Tindersticks so successful in the long run, so able to sustain itself throughout its twenty-one track length.

Yes, for nearly eighty minutes will you get to know Tindersticks’ brand of smooth, silky, often string-assisted chamber pop. It’s a delicacy that fits shockingly well with Staples’ often sorrow-tinged dark lyrics and tired, weak-sounding baritone, contrasting moods, yet fitting all the same with an ironic twist: Once you get what drives Tindersticks' core, Staples’ persona, that initial light, indie pop-sunny feel of the album turns into an eerie tension. It’s like realizing your girlfriend has just cheated on you with a close friend: You’d like to kill them, sure, but at the same time your world has just become smaller, slowly beginning to close in on you. Who can you trust now" Well, how about you try Staples. He’s knows the feeling. Hell, he's probably felt it worst. Tindersticks is his story, without censor. You should listen.



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user ratings (110)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
grungeguy88 (4.5)
Tindersticks is right on the money with their unique and beautiful debut album....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
August 14th 2010


6145 Comments


The National fans need this

Digging: Emperor X - Western Teleport

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 14th 2010


15610 Comments


THIS BAND RULES

Bitchfork
August 14th 2010


7584 Comments


Yeah you described The Magnetic Fields in the first couple of paragraphs.

Ponton
Emeritus
August 14th 2010


6145 Comments


yeah, they have a similar vibe, though i like Staples' voice a bit more than Merritt's

90s material from this band is ace, both self-tilted albums and curtains, but I've always read that their post 2000 stuff is hit and miss. May still look into it though.

Bitchfork
August 14th 2010


7584 Comments


When my prog-folk/psychfolk/freakfolk comes out you should look into it. It's like all jovial but it has a bunch of tts samples so it's all up in the dumps.
Like, doesn't sound a lot like this but it's got a major chamber feel.

East Hastings
August 14th 2010


4402 Comments


oh b4k

Bitchfork
August 15th 2010


7584 Comments


it's like chamber music on crack with some vocal samples and a koto and a sitar and a shit load of harp and i love it so

East Hastings
August 15th 2010


4402 Comments


oh b4k [2]

is this the one you were talking about?

SeaAnemone
August 15th 2010


21407 Comments


I'm a National fan.

I need this.

Bitchfork
August 15th 2010


7584 Comments


Matt, what? Like, mega-confused right now.
Sea, you need moar Unfathoms, obviously, like Rogue, because it's like a noisy hipster album.

East Hastings
August 15th 2010


4402 Comments


no no, you were talking about something w/ voice samples and medieval themes and whatnot.

Bitchfork
August 15th 2010


7584 Comments


yeah it's all a part of my lp whatever
it's in not aut

Tits McGee
August 15th 2010


1876 Comments


fuck yeah, underrated band

Lucid
August 15th 2010


8810 Comments


I listened to Tindersticks II and thought it was okay. Is this better?

Ponton
Emeritus
August 15th 2010


6145 Comments


Tindersticks II lets its instrumentals explore a bit more within the songs. This keeps things on a tighter leash overall, as far as song structure goes, and the playing times of the songs are shorter on here too. I enjoy both a lot, but yeah this is my fav.

731
August 15th 2010


677 Comments


kewl

Romulus
August 15th 2010


8479 Comments


really digging the 5 reviews Jared. I'm not as into The National as most people here but I'll definitely give this a listen at some point

Ponton
Emeritus
August 15th 2010


6145 Comments


Thanks, rom, probably gonna hold off on these for a while though

I wouldn't say the songs sound the same for me, personally. They're kind of like The Magnetic Fields in that regard, as you have to give a lot of attention to their albums or they tend to blend in together. All these songs sound unique to me.

Romulus
August 15th 2010


8479 Comments


They're kind of like the fields in that regard, as you have to give a lot of attention to their albums or they tend to blend in together.


Tell me about it. Is there a better place to start than 69 Love Songs? It's great but I'm having so much trouble taking it all in.

Ponton
Emeritus
August 15th 2010


6145 Comments


Yeah, try Holiday.

69 Love Songs takes a long time, just for one listen even, but yeah, in the end it's worth it.



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