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After self-releasing several well-received singles, Tindersticks became darlings of the mainstream British and alternative American press with the 1993 release of their eponymously titled debut album. Moving from classically-tinged ballads, chaotic rockers with plenty of cacophonous dissonance, and simple, yet captivating pop gems, the band proved that an album with twenty songs could maintain a consistent vision without becoming repetitive. Although attention is often focused on Stuart Staples' distinctive vocals -- elegance and decadence delivered with both wry detachment and despairing weariness -- the expert manner in which the musicians complement one another cannot be understated. Violin, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums together either create a clarity that's astonishing, or end up a deliberate, swirling, drunken and reeling mess. With each successive record, the band has upped the orchestral ante (they've even employed a 28-piece orchestra for a live recording) without compromising melody, subtlety or mood. Although comparisons are often made to Nick Cave and other dark crooners, one need only hear songs such as "My Sister" or "A Night In" to hear just how stunningly original and brilliant Tindersticks are.
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