Stuart A. Staples
Arrhythmia


3.0
good

Review

by DoofusWainwright USER (99 Reviews)
June 19th, 2018 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Be Still My Breaking Heart

The hardest bias to control when confronting a new release from an artist you respect deeply and crave new work from is that of personal expectations, and of personal preference; the challenge is to review what's in front of you, not what you expected (or wanted) to receive. Tindersticks frontman Stuart Staples is one such figure for me, a man possessed of one of the most distinctive vocal styles out there, who’s also developed an enveloping lyrical world full of dark yet romantic thoughts. I cannot lie, I knew exactly what I wanted from this second solo album to the extent I’d half imagined the music in my head well before actually pressing play; something not dissimilar to his first solo effort ‘Leaving Songs’, which was a more stripped back and sparse version of his work with the Tindersticks. If that album had been ever so slightly more focused, a touch braver in the execution, then we could well have been dealing with a minor classic. A refinement, that’s what I was hoping for, a refinement of that album’s approach.

Well, of course, you have to ask if an artist such as Staples is releasing solo material to achieve that sort of a goal? Surely he’s attempting to perfect his song writing vision with his main gig, the Tindersticks, so it’s far more likely he’s releasing solo material to scratch a very different sort of itch. So it proves, this album is made up of two different experiments; the first half an exercise in taking the Tindersticks style and pushing it into even more patient and ambient territories, while the second half is an all-instrumental medley of pieces written to accompany his wife's art series ‘Skies’. In effect, this was the opposite of what I expected or, if I’m honest, was hoping for. That there’s the challenge.

Tackling the first half of the project, the three lengthy songs (and they are loosely speaking still ‘songs’) is the easier part of the equation. As the title of the album hints these tracks are obsessed with rhythm, especially of the irregular kind. ‘A New Real’ enters half naked, all bare beats and echoing vocals, but wait, just when you’re falling into a sort of vague stupor the music springs into life at the 3:19 mark. It’s a genuinely beautiful moment, with Staples claiming you’ve just stumbled into ‘a new real’, and if feels like that. ‘Memories of Love’ is more typical of recent Tindersticks output only it chooses to luxuriate in its own ambience to a deeper degree than ever before; yes, it’s gorgeous. Finally closing out the trio you have the most traditional ‘song’ of the set in the shape of 'Step Into the Grey', the aggressively delivered lyric ‘I need you with your teeth bared’ bringing back memories of ‘Milky Teeth’ from way back on the Tindersticks debut. However…just when you think Staples has delivered something predictable he pulls the rug from under you once more, as the track ends with a bizarre but hugely enjoyable chamber jazz rhythmic piece.

Ok, this is where you look up at that 3 rating and wonder ‘what’s up?’; you’re correct, those opening three tracks do account for a score somewhere north of 4 out of 5. How could the second half be so much worse? Well, it’s not that it’s bad per se, it’s just music that provides a function I neither enjoy nor need. Perhaps I’ve failed with that bias, but believe me, I’ve tried to take this track on its own merits. I’ve settled down and listened to its 30 minutes of slowly rising and falling music without distraction on four separate occasions, and while it never offends and time moves pleasantly forward - beyond that I can’t detect anything life enhancing. This isn't even ambient music that also works well for the purpose of relaxation, it doesn't have that quality to it as much as I've looked for it here. No, the worst thing, the thing I've had to admit to myself, is this music actually does its job; this would be great music to work to, to paint to, to walk around a gallery and watch slowly evolving video artworks to. I can tell myself that but the disappointment is still there, and that rating remains.

So Doofus Wainwright HAS failed.

{signing off, 2018......}



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user ratings (3)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
June 19th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend

The end



Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end

No safety or surprise, the end

I'll never look into your eyes again

DoofusWainwright
June 19th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The very last review on the DoofusWainwright account, a sad day indeed.



But there will be a rebirth, and some afterbirth to gobble up maybe for those hungry

Papa Universe
June 19th 2018


22503 Comments


farewell then, you lovely little creature. and one last time: stuart a. staPOS
what are you going to do now? move down south, open a farm, invest in gold?

DoofusWainwright
June 19th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

start another account innit, and make all the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again



and then start a new account, and make the same mistakes all over again

DoofusWainwright
June 19th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cheers Paps, you might like the first three tracks here maybe, worth a go

Papa Universe
June 19th 2018


22503 Comments


well, I like me some Tindersticks, so sure

butcherboy
June 19th 2018


9464 Comments


that rating doesn't bode well from a Tindersticks lover.. will still check though.. mazel tov, Doof.. i'll miss the .5 reviews..

DoofusWainwright
June 19th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Butch, first three tunes are a 4-4.5 rating - think you'll like them a fair bit.

robin
June 20th 2018


4596 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so so good

TwigTW
June 21st 2018


3934 Comments


Oh sh*t! I didn't realize it was your last review... Bowie retired in '73, and then proceeded to do some of his best work after that. I'm hoping this is a Ziggy Stardust moment for you.



... Oh yeah, and the first half of this album is very nice too.

DoofusWainwright
June 21st 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Twig, glad you appreciated the first half, it’s good stuff.



I’m going nowhere and I’m sure I won’t be able to stop myself posting some reviews on the new account, I can’t just hold in all those opinions, that would be unhealthy right?

TwigTW
June 21st 2018


3934 Comments


very unhealthy... and no fun!

zakalwe
July 4th 2018


38516 Comments


Bloody hell

DoofusWainwright
July 4th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What have I done now?

zakalwe
July 4th 2018


38516 Comments


Brought the curtain down on an illustrious reviewing career.

Nice way to end it mate.

DoofusWainwright
July 4th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Contributor was too much pressure :D





zakalwe
July 7th 2020


38516 Comments


Stood in the London drizzle. This is lovely.



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