Waiting for the Moon

By definition alone, Tindersticks' name implies something fire-worthy, spark-inducing, and with more than a decade's worth of experience, one would hope the British sextet would have settled into that name by now. But the group's latest effort, Waiting for the Moon, is hardly combustible. Sure, there's a faint glimmer and pop, the sort of small flicker you'd find at the end of an evening in front of the fireplace, but lacking is the stark heat on your cheek you look for in records that strive for a moody ambience.

At best, this is an album of scattered cinematic anecdotes: Trembling strings recall the slow motion of new lovers noticing each other's movements, quirky guitar rhythms suggest caffeinated police chases in European cities. But these glimpses are occasional, leaving the bulk of the record with the tired, insincere yearning that bland people find romantic. Ultimately, what is intended as a cognac-tinted love story set in a charming cafe comes off more like a Vegas documentary, complete with the faint echo of slot machines and the smell of all-you-can-eat buffets.

The problem seems to be in the delivery. Stuart Staples sings with the kind of inflections that make it easy for us to imagine him as shallow and shady, gleefully rubbing the fabric of his white suit between a thumb and forefinger as he whispers to himself in the mirror. He seems bored, his performance contrived. It's like Bono on codeine. Tindersticks do indeed succeed at making a nocturnal record. Perhaps they could've just ventured into the night with a little more gumption.

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