sat 25/05/2024

Album: Tindersticks - Distractions | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Tindersticks - Distractions

Album: Tindersticks - Distractions

The Midlands’ perpetually disappointed romantics go minimalist

Mournful and minimalist

Nottingham’s perpetually disappointed romantics, Tindersticks would seem to have spent 2020’s almost never-ending Covid lockdown creating their 21st album (including film soundtracks), Distractions. However, just as the pandemic has been for the rest of us, its recording sounds like it was something of a socially distanced affair.

Gone is the lush orchestrally infused backing of brass, strings and such that often made Stuart Staples’ mob come over like the musical offspring of Barry Adamson and Tom Waits. Instead, a more minimalist style has been adopted that occasionally seems to utilise little more than a cheap Casio keyboard and a sampler to create vocal and instrumental loops. It’s a sound, however, that is far from jarring and actually suits their claustrophobic and mournful tunes quite well.

Distractions is made up of three cover versions from the back catalogues of Neil Young, Dory Previn and the Television Personalities, bookended by a couple of originals at either end of the album. Opening track, “Man Alone (Can’t Stop the Fadin’)” clocks in at over 11 minutes and is particularly narcotic and woozy with its hypnotic bass, tinny drum machine and Staples intoning “No, I’m not greedy for the sky no-more” and “Can’t stop the fadin’" over and over. “I Imagine You”, on the other hand, is beatless and breathy, wallowing in longing and desperation.

Of the covers, the Television Personalities’ “You’ll Have to Scream Louder” is a gem of reinvention with an almost funky guitar groove that has Tindersticks getting as close to Nile Rogers’ sound as they are ever likely to find themselves. The final pair of originals, however, sink deeper into the gloom and feature “Tue-Moi”, a beautiful piano ballad with Staples mournfully singing in French, while the Leonard Cohen-esque “The Bough Breaks” tugs at the heartstrings with a pastoral vibe that samples enough of the birdsong of the English countryside to make it clear that heartbreak isn’t confined to poets in their urban bedsits.

Gone is the lush orchestrally infused backing of brass, strings and such


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters