The more things change the more they stay the same. For their final album with their original six-piece line-up, Tindersticks dripped some of the strings of their earlier releases over the soul of newer material, and brought a decade of misery, despair, pain, anticipation, relief, occasional hope, and above all beauty to a close with a fittingly rounded album that includes some of their most affecting material to date.
Much of the credit for this must go to Dickon Hinchcliffe, who would be one of those leaving the band after this album. Having started out as an instrumentalist, he has, by this stage, become an arranger of some flair, and now, having generally handled backing vocal duties from time to time, he adds lead vocalist to his CV, both on opening track Until The Morning Comes and on the magnificent Sweet Memory.
Came running from nowhere fast
Came stumbling at me through the dark
Breaking right through my skin
And I can taste no other
Came like lightning in my arms
Came tearing through the night
Inside the memory
I can taste no other
After a relatively sedate and single-paced release or two, on Waiting for the Moon Tindersticks are once again mixing and matching: witness the maelstrom of Say Goodbye to the City, a reminder of early glories like Talk to Me, and the spoken-word of 4.48 Psychosis, its lyrics taken from a play of the same name by playwright Sarah Kane. The song, like the play before it, is fragmented, awkward, defies categorisation or analysis, and is rendered more harrowing still by the knowledge that Kane committed suicide shortly after completing the play.
The contrast between 4.48 Psychosis and the album’s closing quartet could not be more extreme. Sometimes it Hurts sees the return of the call-and-response Tindersticks duet, Lhasa de Sela taking the husky-voiced female role, then My Oblivion does that Tindersticks thing of stretching time imperceptibly, floating on heavenly strings for seven minutes without ever threatening to outstay its welcome. The light and bouncy Just a Dog sets up the last Tindersticks song we would hear for a while. Fortunately it’s yet another of their epic monologic melodramas - not groundbreaking, not experimental, not inspirational perhaps, but touching and delicate, and a perfectly understated way to sign off a decade together.