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Album Review
Falling Down A Mountain

Falling Down A Mountain
by Tindersticks


Review Date
17th February 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

Tindersticks have been a going concern since the early 1990’s; a veritable cult act. They radiate a sense of inscrutability, like a band that should have released one life altering album and then disbanded, never to be heard from again. Only, Falling Down A Mountain is their tenth album and second since reshuffling their line-up due to the departure of three core members in 2006.

Perhaps that restructure is why, upon first impression, there is an air of hesitancy to the title track and album opener. It feels like a group feeding off one another, and at six minutes plus is essentially a jam session that fails to crescendo. But in the context of the album as a whole, it reveals itself as a chance for the listener to ease themselves into, and get acquainted with, what Falling Down A Mountain is all about.

The only real disappointment, and it’s necessary to mention it this early, is that as soon as second track ‘Keep You Beautiful’ ends, you could easily be forgiven for skipping straight to ‘Black Smoke’, five songs later. It’s not so much that the songs in between are bad (apart from the baffling duet ‘Peanuts’), but they are just nowhere near as essential as what is to come.

After the soundtrack evoking instrumental ‘Hubbard Hills’, ‘Black Smoke’ serves as a resurrection to the sluggish middle of the album. It lays down a simple groove that lead singer Stuart Staples picks up and runs with, evoking Jarvis Cocker and Lou Reed to superb effect. ‘No Place So Alone’ keeps the tempo up, each musician sounding reinvigorated, before they pull a u-turn on penultimate track ‘Factory Girls’. Softly tapped piano keys introduce the image of a pallid crooner sitting in an empty bar before the camera pulls focus and the house lights go up to reveal the full band, giving the song a whole new and wonderful complexion.

As instrumental album closer ‘Paino Music’ sweeps into its orchestral coda, it reveals an aura of confidence that was there all along, just below the surface. It makes you think that perhaps Falling Down A Mountain needs to be listened too in its entirety, missteps and all, to fully appreciate everything it has to offer.

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