With no sign of a new album in several years, Tindersticks' one-off show at the Barbican in 2006 seemed likely to be their last outing together, serving as an acknowledgement that they were over. Perhaps Stuart A. Staples underwhelming solo releases have changed their minds, but from out of the blue a new album has arrived, featuring a stripped down line up but all the hallmarks of the old band.
It seems like longer than four years since they most recently hit the highs of Whiskey & Water, A Night In, or Travelling Light - and I'm happy to admit that I was not holding out much hope for this one. While they may have done nothing wrong, I grew tired of the Tindersticks - perhaps overloading on their various non-album releases, such as their mostly instrumental soundtracks and sprawling re-releases. On the first listen some of The Hungry Saw may seem pretty average, lacking much of the bombastic flourishes that elevate their best work, but after a little wearing-in, this album really starts to flourish - revealing many of the band signature flourishes.
Like a slumbering giant, gently waking from a cider soaked evening, Intro plays out like the soundtrack to some expressive dance, as one by one the instruments awake and the Tindertsicks welcome us back into their open arms. With the giant awakened, the band fire up the old charm and we're instantly back at their best with Yesterday Tomorrows. There's a soundtrack vibe to many songs on this very visual album - with extended passages of music often leading into, or in some case replacing the lyrics. Having a full band behind him seems to have filled in the gaps that peppered Staples' solo albums.
Single The Flicker Of A Little Girl, is illustrative of the album, but it's deceptivly upbeat - and it's the more epic songs like The Other Side Of The World and the oustanding Boobar that stand this record up with the bands best work. Melancholic. Uplifting. Soulful. Nostalgic. Over-the-top. Understated. All the best ingredients for classic Tindersticks. The only thing missing could be a Whiskey chaser to wash it all down.