On their third studio album, Curtains (London), these British art-lounge mopes don’t do much to alter the sound perfected on their previous release: the melodramatic strings, the Spanish-tinged guitar and mariachi-flavored horns, the languid, sometimes dragging rhythms, and the droll, almost catatonic vocals of Stuart Staples all contribute to a stylistic netherworld that borrows equally from Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Morricone sound tracks, and two-bit Vegas lounge. The Tindersticks’ restrained elegance is given an edge by their dry, self-effacing humor–on “Ballad of Tindersticks” Staples mumbles, “We are artists / We are sensitive and important.” The band’s work on the just-released sound track for the Claire Denis film Nenette et Boni (Bar/None) further proves how effective they’ve become at moody, Cimmerian evocation, but such mastery comes at the expense of variety: despite little change-ups in texture, some caustic guitar feedback here or sashaying marimba there, the band has clearly begun to tread water. (And the ineffectual duets with Ann Magnuson and Isabella Rossellini on Curtains are not the solution.) Yet the Tindersticks’ live show has the power to transcend their studio stagnancy: there’s plenty of self-mocking, dark-suited pretension but also a muscularity and immediacy that’s missing on the records. Thursday, October 30, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAk

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Phill Nicholls.