Hungry Saw Enhanced
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Formed in 1991, this U.K. group exists in a dark, romantic netherworld where Scott Walker replaces Elvis as cultural pivot point. Their moody, string-laced arrangements frame frequently gloomy lyrical themes given voice by basso profundo Stuart Staples, a master of passionate understatement. While not astoundingly prolific, the band sporadically released critically lauded records for decades and their intricate, atmospheric tones lent themselves perfectly to motion pictures, and they became a regular contributor to soundtracks.
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The last few years have seen Tindersticks take a back foot as Staples concentrated on his solo work.
In 2006 the band performed at "Don't Look Back" concert series, which although being hailed as a great success marked the ending of the band as a six piece. With half the band leaving, it was time to take stock. And so they did eventually relocate to Staples' home in France to produce "The Hungry Saw".
Spawned in the belly of Staples' Le Chien Chanceux studio, this is an understated record. It is bound to please fans both old and new, presenting the dark, brooding regret still in full effect, the battered soul boy, surrounded by horn swells, twinkling keys and clanking guitar stabs in full effect on "Yesterdays Tomorrow".
For those who feared "Waiting For The Moon" was the irrevocable swansong, "The Hungry Saw" will provide a refreshed, welcome return, but some of the old dissolute glamour is gone
The album is a complex and highly introspective venture, and makes no bones about it: this is an album for Tindersticks, by Tindersticks, and steadfastly refuses to stray from this.
Stuart Staples still sounds like he's on the verge of tipping over into full-on pub singer delivery at various points but, as this is a beautifully measured album, the rest of the band have managed to restrain him in order to deliver a cohesive collection of mellow melancholia.
You may be required to dig pretty deep to find a level on which to engage with music so heavily maudlin. It would be easy to ascribe - or dismiss - "The Hungry Saw" with implications of bleak cloudiness or film noir, but look hard enough (on "The Other Side of the World" or "E-type", for example) and it's apparent that the album does carry a veiled tenderness with a very human constituent.
Flutes, tambourines and trumpets lend a Sufjan-esque folk revue flavour to "The Flicker Of A Little Girl".
Stuart Staples and his band seem to have mellowed with age, and are able to take themselves with a pinch of salt (during the sumptuous "Mother Dear" Staples utters the phrase "it's not so serious, after all").
Tindersticks know their craft, and can execute it with finesse.
It grows on you and haunts you.
While the new incarnation of the Tindersticks shows little of the edginess which characterized its early albums, The Hungry Saw is immediately recognizable as a Tindersticks album. The voice of Stuart Staples has a quality all its own and though Dickon Hinchliffe is missed, there is a continuity in the style of the arrangements that will bring joy to the fan on this long-awaited return.
The Hungry Saw starts with a tinkling piano intro that evokes the soundtrack for Trouble Every Day then segues into a somber vocal groove that unfortunately does not resume until All The Love later brings the listener back to the original mood. Though this is not the band's best effort, there are some tunes which are quite good. I most like Yesterday's Tomorrows, Come Feel the Sun, The Other Side of the World, and the instrumentals E-Type and The Organist Entertains. I also enjoy The Flicker of A Little Girl, the title cut, and Boobar Come Back To Me although these last three are somewhat spoiled by lame background vocals.
The Hungry Saw comes with a handsome booklet containing lyrics and pertinent album information. No matter which Tindersticks album and style was previously your favorite, you are almost sure to be quite delighted by this. Lets hope the next album comes before another five years pass.