The glory years of 1992-1999, thoughtfully compiled on two CDs

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Tindersticks – Working For The Man: The Island Years
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Elegantly wasted, lugubrious, rain and red wine-sodden-there remains something magically dreary about the Tindersticks’ early records. While their dogged exhaustion of a tiny musical remit has made for some fairly average albums in recent years, Working For The Man proves that the sextet’s initial attempts to formulate an East Midlands noir are still beguiling. Essentially an extension of 1998’s flimsy Donkeys compilation, the first disc features what we’ll optimistically call the band’s hits, with the tantalisingly incomprehensible ghost story “Marbles” as distrait as ever. The second CD, just as predictably, rounds up plenty of long unavailable singles and B-sides, with low-budget murk and creak maturing better than orchestral largesse. It’s hardly surprising these songs have aged so well, given that they were designed to be ravaged and ancient in the first place.

Interesting, too, that Stuart Staples’ faded croon sounds more droll than depressive in retrospect:if only he and his band had quietly retired at the turn of the century and left this impressive musical heritage undiluted.