Tindersticks | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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On their last two albums--Can Our Love...(Beggars Banquet, 2001) and Simple Pleasure (Island, 1999; it was never released in the U.S.)--England's most elegant merchants of mope livened up their baroque sound with an undercurrent of R & B. Though front man Stuart Staples hardly sounded like he was down on his knees testifying, the rhythms were tauter, the horns punchier, and the execution sharper. But on the new Waiting for the Moon Tindersticks seem to have abandoned Al Green and Curtis Mayfield and returned to more likely sources of inspiration: Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Scott Walker. The arrangements are gorgeously mournful, and the lyrics are so morbid they're funny. "My hands 'round your throat / If I kill you now, well, they'll never know," begins the album's opener, "Until the Morning Comes" (with a rare lead vocal by violinist Dickon Hinchliffe). Luckily, the band's exquisite control of tone and dynamics--its ability to isolate and intensify every possible shade of sonic gray--ensures that the relentless darkness never becomes drab. "Say Goodbye to the City" is charged by ever-escalating rhythms, dissonant strings, and trumpet lines that explode from lyrical figures into expressionistic bleats, while in "4:48 Psychosis" Staples recites the words of playwright Sarah Kane over a simmering groove reminiscent of the Velvets--particularly in the Cale-like scraping of Hinchliffe. Onstage the group manages to bring a graceful humanity to all the gloom. This show is the band's first here since 1997; Magnolia Electric Co.--the current vehicle for former Songs: Ohia main man Jason Molina--opens. Tuesday, August 5, 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.

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