Tindersticks have been startlingly consistent and criminally underlooked for nearly 20 years. From their early lush and orchestrated rock to today's sparse crooning, they have evolved organically, held together by Stuart Staples' smooth dark baritone. Falling Down a Mountain marks their second studio album since having lost three of the six founding members. This loss has freed up the band, instead of holding them back.
The seven-minute title track demonstrates the bands propensity for breezy jazz improvisation and exemplifies their bands looseness. Unconstrained by complex arrangements, Staples' voice becomes wilder and more experimental. "Keep you Beautiful" and "Black Smoke" are classic Tindersticks songs, the former a quiet piano ballad, the latter a searing rocker with mounting intensity.
The duet, a Tindersticks trademark, can be found in "Peanuts," a lyrical oddity with Mary Margaret O'Hara about learning to love peanuts if your loved one does. "She Rode Me Down" lives up to the name, with lyrics "like a hurtlin', steaming train" perfectly matching the backing instrumentation, with its blasting flutes and bombastic trumpets.
The band makes allusions to their older work through familiar chord progressions and instrumental flourishes and it seems Tindersticks are fondly looking back on their career as they forge onward. Building on their last album, The Hungry Saw, they are slowly shifting and evolving, but manage to remain as majestic and elegant as ever.