Tindersticks: The Waiting Room (3 stars)

The chamber-pop band's 11th album blends film and music

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Album Review - Tindersticks: The Waiting Room

Like so many other Tindersticks projects – from Italian actress Isabella Rossellini singing on one of their timeless early singles ‘A Marriage Made in Heaven’, to five soundtracks for pictures by French filmmaker Claire Denis – there’s a cinematic aspect to the Nottingham-formed chamber-pop band’s 11th album. The Waiting Room is a collaborative project which sees each track accompanied by a short film made by different directors from Christoph Girardet to Rosie Pedlow, Gabriel Sanna, Gregorio Graziosi and who else but Claire Denis.

It’s far from a ground-breaking conceit – everyone from Super Furry Animals to Beyoncé and Justin Bieber have tried something similar over the years – but a tasteful and quite functional adornment nonetheless to this very settled, spacious and enveloping set of songs. Stuart Staples’ baritone voice – so warm and inviting you want to lie down in it – is one of the most instantly identifiable in British pop. And yet such is his way of slurring as if his mouth is perpetually pumped full of dental anaesthetic, his words alone don’t always conjure the strongest of imagery.

The sashaying glockenspiel and steelpan decorated ‘Hey Lucinda’, a duet with the late American folk singer Lhasa De Sela, is paired with a simple but sympathetic video directed by Joe King and Rosie Pedlow, and presents a particularly successful marriage of music and moving image. Elsewhere ‘Were We Once Lovers?’ recalls the Blue Nile with its clipped funk bassline, while the repetitively grooving ‘Help Yourself’ is adorned by 60s cop show theme horns. ‘We Are Dreamers’ features backing vocals from Savages’ Jehnny Beth, and finds her revealing a more mellow side than she shows with her own fierce band, while still baring her teeth in flashes. “Don’t let me suffer” sings Staples over a lonely orphaned organ on the title track, his pain at odds with an album which is always a pleasure.

Tindersticks

The darkly romantic side of Britpop - atmospheric songs layered with literary lyrics, mumbling vocals and gently melancholy orchestrations.

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