PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2008, 12:00am


The Hungry Saw

(Beggars Banquet)

If you haven't been won over by Tindersticks by now, you probably never will be. As with dark Aussie balladeer Nick Cave, with whom the band is often compared, you either get it, or you don't. Never ones to veer far from the musical terrain they're comfortable on, Tindersticks have always concentrated on refining their soulful, mournful sound.

They near perfection at times on their seventh album, The Hungry Saw, packed with epic, haunting ballads that will grip all but the most hard-hearted listener. Stuart Staples' soaring, evocative voice is a thing of rare beauty, never sounding better than it does on Feel The Sun, a highlight of the dozen songs.

Stripped down to core members Staples, Dave Boulter and Neil Fraser, the band from Nottingham, England, retreated to France to compose their first album since the accomplished Waiting for the Moon in 2003. The isolation seems to have done them a power of good, with not a dud song in the collection.

The Hungry Saw maintains interest through subtle changes of tempo and style, from the sublime The Flicker of a Little Girl to the relatively upbeat E Type. The Other Side of the World, meanwhile, transports you to a land where Tindersticks' misery and romance somehow live hand in hand.

Diehard followers will be extremely pleased that the band haven't strayed from their song-sheet, while those impervious to the charm of their previous offerings can safely stay away again.

Staples and Co won't mind that. After all, Tindersticks have never been easy listening, so why start now?