Tindersticks – No Treasure But Hope
Tindersticks' 11th album is a somewhat uneven collection of chamber pop tracks from one of the genre's mainstays
Making a career of crafting delicious chamber pop nuggets, Tindersticks have existed on the peripheries of relevance and fashion for almost 30 years now. Beyond the odd nod to the genre from the indie/pop world (Antony & the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens), it's a style that's never really had its moment since its orchestral pop roots in the late 60s. Now the band return with their 11th album No Treasure But Hope, which continues a great run, although not quite as confidently as you'd hope.
Album opener For the Beauty is a perfect distillation of the Tindersticks sound, Stuart Staples' rich, sonorous voice bathed in soft piano and gentle strings. It evokes a scene of a man bearing his soul, but doing so in a sumptuous drawing room, full of baroque ornaments and period-specific accoutrements, all velvet and dignified pomp.
The album's arrangements are uniformly beautiful, coddling Staples' vocals at all times, though sometimes to the point of being overly cloying. Pinky In the Daylight, described by Staples as his “first pure love song” is pretty enough, but the simple, saccharine detail drags out unnecessarily. Carousel and Take Care In Your Dreams are similarly lovely, yet forgettable. See My Girls is by far the most experimental song on the album, dealing in wonky Eastern textures and choppy strings, but the overly sentimental lyrics about enjoying seeing photos of his “girls” on holiday don't stray far from surface level.
The final three songs are better, delving into the nature of father-son relationships (The Old Man's Gait), adding a hint of brassy funk (Tough Love) and finally coming full circle with another superlative piano ballad. There's more good than bad on No Treasure But Hope, but its insipid mid-section bogs down what could've been another stellar release from one of the most consistently underrated bands out there.
Listen to: For the Beauty, Tough Love