5 stars purely as it is Tindersticks. But, a relatively pointless collection. The arrangements are virtually the same as the original versions. Still a joy to listen to, but the time/money involved would have been better used on new material.
The premise of this album is simple - ten tracks from the band's first 21 years. It's a sort of re-recorded best of (though my own Tindersticks best of would run to three times this album), undertaken for no other reason that the band as they are now could improve on the recordings made by the original lineup. Time will tell whether these versions will overtake the originals, but they are beautiful revisitings. There's no major rearrangements (indeed, the long-departed Dickon Hinchliffe still carries eight credits for string and brass arrangements from the original versions), but the album works as a whole and sounds far better than the originals and gives a fresh sheen to the odd overlooked gem (Say Goodbye To The City) or overfamiliar classic (a spine-tingling version of A Night In).
The band have wisely avoided re-recording anything from their most recent post-reunion albums (which I still rate very highly), so this release squares a circle in that respect, giving more gravitas to the current incarnation of Tindersticks as a result. Fans will also be keen to hear the two Stuart Staples that have recently been incorporated into the Tindersticks setlist (Friday Night and Marseilles Sunshine), as well as the single-only What Are You Fighting For (the only post-split track here), which closes the album.
I'll be honest and admit I'll pretty much buy anything with the Tindersticks name on it, and can see how this collection may be redundant to anyone who owns and loves the originals. When placed alongside the band's disappointing soundtrack to Les Salauds, released just a week earlier, it seems to be a case of quantity over quality, but there's enough here to entice in the casual listener. Although I'd suggest Working For The Man as the definitive Tindersticks primer, this album as a celebration of nine albums, five soundtracks, ten members, and six leap years is a worthwhile landmark.
A Review of "Across Six Leap Years" by the Tindersticks - James S. Ryan, November 4, 2013
On September 6, 2013, Stuart A. Staples described the context of recording Across Six Leap Years with the Netherlands media organization FaceCulture, whose focus is video recording interviews, unplugged sessions, events, press conferences and presentations of music artists. In short, Staples compares the effort to 2004's Bonnie "Prince" Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music where fans have two distinctly versions of selected songs.
Granted, Bonnie Prince set his sights to imprint 15 Palace songs with an eccentric mix of Music City kitsch and mainstream Countrypolitan backed by Nashville's most legendary session players. The results are sonically grandiose yet aesthetically less appealing than future Bonnie "Prince" Billy studio collaborations. Alternatively, Stuart A. Staples and company rely on their subtle emotive changes to anchor Across Six Leap Years with intimate production values, and substantially less-is-more, consistently minimalist approach.
However, the Tindersticks are far from formulaic as each selection presents an opportunity for the listener to dive deeper into the vibe of the original cut. Here the group demonstrates years of mastering the artistic sensibilities of creation, innovation, and re-creation--eschewing any portents of complacency or exercises into derivative folly. After frequent listens, the results are an immaculate, if not laid back and assured recording; proving a Tindersticks constant--a restraint for the banal and ardent in refusal to paint by numbers.
Only lesser bands fall trap to the self-absorbed and self-indulgent studio wizardry that lacks any musical transcendence or opportunity for depth. Conversely, Across Six Leap Years presents a warm, self-effacing set; rich in artistic curiosity, ingeniously exquisite in arrangements, and delivered with a soulful world-weary empathy, while thoughtfully sidestepping any hint of parody. As the Phoenix rising, the Tindersticks are resolute, with mythical prowess, to deliver songs reborn anew to live again - and linger as their old self.
Recommend for fans and newcomers, alike. Bonsoir, regret, à demain.
Tindersticks Interview - Stuart A. Staples (part 1), September 6, 2013: youtu.be/wZmmBb1kHXQ
I first heard Tindersticks in a Nice record store in 2011. I asked the salesman for details then promptly lost them. Over the next couple of years, I tried hard to remember the name and it was not until I saw it on an Amazon MP3 advert that the memories came flooding back. I had not realised that Tindersticks was an English indie band so the standards experienced actually enhance my original conception. All together first class bringing back happy memories.