I came late to the music of Tindersticks and ended up buying loads of their records in a short space of time. A wealth of wonderful music entered my world, but two albums in particular stood out. Their superlative second record and this, 2003’s ‘Waiting For The Moon’, their last album before a long break and a halving in personnel. Often languid, occasionally discordant and always atmospheric, ‘Waiting For The Moon’ is a wonderful collection of songs.
For me, it hinges on a double song salvo in the second half. ‘Sometimes It Hurts’ is a charming duet with Lhasa de Sela, straight off the classics pile from which ‘Travelling Light’, ‘Buried Bones’ and, from the wonderful new album ‘Falling Down The Mountain’, ‘Peanuts’ have all come. I may be way off the mark on this one, but I’ve always taken the line, “what got you to thinking I had a different song?” to mean that Stuart Staples’ character is looking at a long-term relationship and pointing out that he isn’t like to change. The low burr of his repeated statements of acceptance are utterly beguiling.
This is the then followed by the widescreen sound (apologies for the Q magazine style cliché, but it’s true) of ‘My Oblivion’, which slowly builds and builds but never quite seems to get there. And it’s that holding back that makes it so irresistible. Every time you hear it, you know what you’re going to get, but that sense of expectation is just as powerful on the thirty-first listen as on the first. They’ve released better – and are soon going to do so again – but this one works brilliant as an album to put on and absorb from start to finish.
Late September, 2006. A sweaty Leadmill in Sheffield. An enraptured crowd are treated to just under an hour of joyous girl-group pop, performed replete with neatly executed dance routines and heart-warming harmonies. At one point, Rosay, as she was then known, looked over at me and held my eyeline for a few, brief seconds. I felt slightly giddy, flushed with that sense of euphoria that music can sometimes bring. By this stage in the gig, I had briefly come round to thinking that the band singing before me were the saviours of modern pop and could only envisage the world quickly realising this and their long term chart success being completely assured.
As history records, ‘We Are The Pipettes’ was little more than a footnote in that year’s musical history and the notable silence and departure of two thirds of the group in the intervening time would suggest that that situation is unlikely to change any time soon. Having said all of that, it’s a marvellous pop album and gloriously fun from start to finish. For all the associations with throwaway, cheesy pop, there are numerous masterful tunes on this record, including the epic ‘A Winter’s Sky’ and the splendidly upbeat ‘Pull Shapes’ which lightly stroked the top forty at one point.
To deny that the vintage girl-groups of the 1960s were the basis for the sound of The Pipettes would be churlish, but to write them off as simply copyists would be similarly stupid. There’s a shambling indie sensibility running through the heart of this record and on a few occasions it does sound like the songs might disintegrate if you gave them a little shove. I rather like that held-together-by-will-power-alone feel and ‘We Are The Pipettes’ remains one of the albums I reach for when I need a dependable burst of aural sunshine.