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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 21 August 2004
The first Tindersticks album is a melange of slow hypnotically building ballads, spoken narratives, instrumental interludes and some twisted pop songs ('City Sickness'). Tindersticks belong to a lineage that includes such greats as Cohen, Waits, Cave, and Morricone. It's fair to say that the mood of this album is largely one of despair and resignation, leavened with their typical black humour. Indeed, late night melancholia pervades most Tindersticks albums, invoking memories of desolate rain soaked city streets and fractured love affairs. For this debut strings and brass are used to great effect and Stuart Staples deep grave voice is brilliantly suited to this material. Tindersticks would actually manage to better this album, and improve and refine the ideas here on their later albums, but this is an amazingly well formed debut. It does take a number of plays (and it is a long album) before the songs work their way into your psyche but its well worth the effort. This remastered version of the CD sounds much better than the initial one. The extra disc basically consists of the first album demos. It would actually be quite a good album in its own right. Despite guitars sounding a bit watery in places, it's relatively fully formed. The track 'Visiting' which never made the leap to the first album proper is one of those trademark spoken narrative pieces. I can see why it didn't make the cut but I still quite like it.
This was an extraordinary piece of work for an emerging band, the first of a number of Tindersticks classics and with the addition of the bonus disc this is a very satisfactory purchase
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on 9 November 2005
The Tindersticks first album is still arguably their finest, mainly because the highpoints are much more numerous than on their following offerings. Added to that now is the bonus of early demo material, mostly related to the ‘proper’ versions found on the first CD, but a worthwhile addition to an already great package.
Strings, piano, brass and all manner of instruments plus Stuart Staples voice combine to make Tindersticks what they are, at worst a late night working men’s establishment/cruise ship combo, with the voice of Vic Reeves club singer (alright it’s a cheap shot, really the guy has one of those fantastically original voices), at best a band that sum up the atmosphere of a smoky evening in a city bar, capable of tugging your heartstrings in a hundred different directions. True they may be an acquired taste but over the last twelve years or so they have produced some fine records with this as their pinnacle.
Once you come to terms with the melancholy subject matter of many of the songs you soon realise how accomplished the lyrics and musical accompaniment is; the lazy drawl of ‘nectar’ contrasting with its up tempo strings lures you in, ‘blood’ is understated and sublime, ‘city sickness’ is slick and was obvious single material, whereas ‘patchwork’ and ‘the not knowing' are simply beautiful. Added to this the rage of ‘Jism’ which builds to crescendo and ‘the drunk tank’ which is both poignant and moving, it all comes together as a fine collection of songs. Perhaps the only criticism of this album which in the original format I owned (double vinyl LP) is the almost experimental feel to some of the filler songs in between the more palatable three to four minute songs, note – ‘sweet sweet man’ pts 1-3 and tyed/tie-dye.
On this note it is worth mentioning that the bonus CD comes with some very listenable demos for fans and newbie’s alike, including a fine full version of ‘sweet sweet man’ and the quite simply sexy ‘for those…’. It’s well worth five stars and once you have realised your life has been emptier without the Tindersticks in it, check out their second album (including possibly their best song ever ‘My sister’) and also the soulful ‘Simple pleasures’. They may have waned in recent years with some of their releases (and I would steer clear of their film soundtracks!), but this album in particular shows what fine songwriters and musicians they are and that they really deserve the highest praise.
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on 5 March 2004
It really is quite overwheliming when first listened to. There is a lot to take in with a band like the tindersticks, to an untrained ear they are miserable and boring, to someone willing to listen their sound can be a magnificent myriad of emotive songwriting and luscious arrangements.
The album unfolds through tales of love and life in the modern world and particularly the experiences of a 'new age' twenty-something male. The singer untagles his life through this series of ballads, rants and intospections, some from his point of view and others from the point of the observer.
Never superficial and increadibly real, the tindersticks revel in their own misery. For them it is a cathartic process, facing the downfalls of life and love, growing from experience, they never bitch and use their music as s childish vehicle for a jibe at another, as a lesser artist would.
This album is increadibly rich and will be one you shall return to time and time again. and if the baroque closer 'not knowing' doesn't get you smiling then you need to listen to more music.
It is fascinating to see a popular band in the mid-ninties producing such raw material, amidst the craze of brit-pop like the velvet underground before them. This was the start of an amazing career that producedseveral other albums as credible as this fantasic debut
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on 21 August 2011
I first heard this when I was a student in Leicester in 1994. It was shortly after the band's FIRST album had appeared as Melody Maker's album of the year and having no idea what their sound was like I bought it on the strength of the MM verdict and, honestly, because I thought their name was cool. Any band that had a name that cool and produced album of the year was worth checking out. Some 18 years later I'm still addicted to their sound because they're like nothing else. Sometimes you think Stuart Staples's mumble isn't singing. The next moment it's the most poetic entrancing vocal you've heard. They've never surpassed their debut in my opinion. Their second album comes close but it's not as good. Patchwork, City Sickness, Whiskey and Water are works of genius. Later and throughout their career their film soundtracks for Claire Denis prove interesting but never essential. Later albums Curtains, Simple Pleasure and Waiting for the Moon include some wonderful tracks but nothing captures the magic and sense of complexity and completeness of this, their first album. It's a desert island disc. A top ten album in your life. It's unique and a work of genius because it genuinely breaks new ground. Because this is so good I have bought everything they have done since. In the mid-2000s chief music-writer, violinist and multi-instrumentalist Dickon Hinchliffe left the band. For me they have never sounded as good. But, even without him, they're still awesome. Buy this album for moody, lounge-pop. Put the lights low, fill your glass with a favourite tipple, close your eyes and be transported elsewhere ...
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on 1 May 2004
This is the third Tindersticks album that I've bought and none have disappointed.
Weighing in at a hefty 21 tracks this is hardcore emotionally draining stuff.
However this is another example of why the Tindersticks are such a great band ;superbly crafted songs, haunting melodies and great lyrics.
If you've never heard the Tindersticks you really should give them a try, although I'm not sure if this album is the best place to to start.
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on 28 September 2009
I can't remember why I picked up this album back in about 1994, but I fell in love with it.

It was just so different and refreshing... somewhat dark, and it takes a few listenings, but the swirling musicality will capture you in its magic. Still my favourite Tindersticks record. A classic!
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on 29 October 2011
Late at night, glass of whisky by your side, put this record on and just lose yourself in one of the greatest albums ever made. Melancholy perfection, enough said.
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on 8 August 2003
Tindersticks, bittersweet and brilliant, this is the album before the record company guys got to them, unpolished, uncompromising, angry ...and incredibly beautiful. Untouchable!
Jism, Marbles, Whiskey and Water and Patchwork are some of the most amazing songs ever written.
This albums deserves to be in everyone's collection and fortunately isn't...
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on 25 April 2003
You could dissect this album for weeks and never get to the bottom of it; after eight years of listening to it, I still find new things, different emotional responses. It took me literally months to get an overall picture of it, so diverses, discordant and unsettling is it at times, but once the picture came I was astonished at the completeness of vision. It's at turns, witheringly beautiful and crushingly untrammeled and Stuart Staples writes some of the most nakedly truthful lyrics you will ever hear. If you want facile comparsions then I guess some Nick Cave or the haunted dancehalls of Jacques Brel will suffice, otherwise just lose yourself in the desolate corridors of its sound.
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on 12 January 2017
Let's be honest this is art school dreary crap. Loved by people who feel it's broody and deep. It's not. I also am convinced Vic reeves pub singer is lead vocalist.
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