At best, this is an album of scattered cinematic anecdotes: Trembling strings recall the slow motion of new lovers noticing each other's movements, quirky guitar rhythms suggest caffeinated police chases in European cities. But these glimpses are occasional, leaving the bulk of the record with the tired, insincere yearning that bland people find romantic. Ultimately, what is intended as a cognac-tinted love story set in a charming cafe comes off more like a Vegas documentary, complete with the faint echo of slot machines and the smell of all-you-can-eat buffets.
The problem seems to be in the delivery. Stuart Staples sings with the kind of inflections that make it easy for us to imagine him as shallow and shady, gleefully rubbing the fabric of his white suit between a thumb and forefinger as he whispers to himself in the mirror. He seems bored, his performance contrived. It's like Bono on codeine. Tindersticks do indeed succeed at making a nocturnal record. Perhaps they could've just ventured into the night with a little more gumption.