Tindersticks – Falling Down A Mountain (4AD) 25/01/10

February 3, 2010 by  

Falling Down A Mountain is the eighth studio album from soul/funk/folk outfit Tindersticks.  Their first release for 4AD and also the first released material to feature drummer Earl Harvin and guitarist David Kitt, it’s unsurprising that the winds of change are blowing strongly.

Whether this drive to push on in new directions could be called a success or not remains to be decided. Tindersticks certainly don’t make it easy for the casual listener. Album opener “Falling Down A Mountain” is an interminable 6.31 of heavily jazz-flavoured meandering.

Things improve with “Harmony Around My Table”, although singer Stuart Staples’ odd delivery has more than a tinge of Vic Reeves’ club singer from Shooting Stars about it. A simple and upbeat piano lead is complimented by the faintest hint of xylophone in the background, with both kept bouncing along with handclaps and high hats. A distinctly “doo-wah-doo” feel runs throughout, reinforcing the jazz feel. But it’s all good fun.

“Peanut” is a stripped back duet with Mary Margaret O’Hara. And a bit of an odd one too. An almost insensible conversation, based around the love of peanuts. And with the delivery of Staples and O’Hara, there is a hint of a naughty pun in there somewhere. The plaintive horn and sombre piano adds further to the farcical tone.

“She Rode Me Down” is a slice of Mexi-Americana, and an enjoyable little tune. With the rolling, Wild-West rhythm that has also been visited by Muse and The Killers, there is more of a sense of purpose, less inclination for attentions to wander.

There is a choice of instrumentals on the album too. “Hubbards Hill” is a melancholy, slighty creepy wordless lament. It’s like walking through a 1960’s fairground, but it’s deserted and the paint is starting to peel of the painted clowns and horses. That kind of deal. “Piano Music” is cut from similar cloth. It’s dark, broody and strangely threatening. The string accompaniment carries a dreamlike, ephemeral quality whilst at the same time being sharp, bitter and soulful.

“Falling Down A Mountain” is certainly a very original album that will have no problem from standing out from its contemporaries. On the other hand, a lot of its ideas are not 100% successful, and the constant mix of darker melodies with barest hints of humour does start to drag occasionally.

[rating:3]


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