No Treasure But Hope

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No Treasure But Hope Review

by Mark Deming

There are few if any working bands who craft their music as meticulously as Tindersticks; their music is like a suspension bridge built out of nuance, a wealth of small details coming together into something tremendously powerful even when it's whisper quiet (which is often). So it's surprising to learn that the group's 2019 album No Treasure But Hope was recorded in less than a week. Rather than creating an elaborately constructed piece in the studio and then figuring out how to play it on-stage, in this case they opted to establish the framework of their compositions first, and then played them live in the studio for a more natural, organic feel. But if anyone was expecting No Treasure But Hope to sound rougher or less precise given the way it was recorded, they'd be wrong. The craft these performers bring to this music is as stunning as ever, and the interplay between the musicians is wondrous, made all the more remarkable by the deeply affecting murmur of Stuart Staples' vocals. As one might expect from Tindersticks, No Treasure But Hope often feels dour and somewhat overcast, despite the strength of the tunes and the abilities of the instrumentalists. This has never been a group given to upbeat themes, but there's an all too real passion in "Pinky in the Daylight" and a wary encouragement in "Take Care of Your Dreams" to remind us Tindersticks aren't pessimists for its own sake, they're romantics who've been disappointed by the world but still believe in life's possibilities. There's really no one else who does exactly what Tindersticks can, and No Treasure But Hope confirms they can not only create music of striking and forbidding beauty, they can do it in a hurry if need be.

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