Battle Scarves: After some membership chaos, Tindersticks are warmed up again.

The somber strains of Nottingham, England’s Tindersticks, over the course of 16 years and seven proper releases, have helped many a sad soul navigate a rough night. Think of their oeuvre as emo for embittered, soul-loving Anglophilic gin sops. After all, how bad can your own life be when you hear Stuart Staples’ mournful baritone deliver tale after tale of heartache, betrayal, domestic violence, murder, and the ultimate aching wake of regret? Matched to sweeping string arrangements, his voice can make those tragic situations sound nearly beautiful. And in addition to repairing hurt feelings, the Tindersticks also offer an object lesson on how to make do with fewer resources in these recessionary times. In 2006, the band’s membership was halved with the departure of three musicians—including Dickon Hinchliffe, who was responsible for all those sweeping strings. In response, Staples retreated into solo work and crossed the channel to settle in a sleepy town in central France. A new Tindersticks album seemed unlikely, but after remodeling a decrepit barn on his property into a recording studio, he brought two of the original members and a new rhythm section in to record what ultimately became The Hungry Saw, the band’s first release in five years. (Staples took on the project with some trepidation: He told the Guardian that recording the new disc “felt like cheating on someone.”) The opener, “Introduction,” a lazy, plinking instrumental, hints at a more minimal approach than the group’s early ornate albums. But by the following song, “Yesterdays Tomorrows,” an appropriately low-key organ and horn accompaniment make Hinchliffe’s absence hardly noticeable. The track sounds less epic and cinematic than the group’s mid-’90s work, but Staples’ lines still shiver with the emotion of post-split complications: “And still we try/To reach for what has gone behind/But they’re here/The sun arrived, beat down until that life ran dry/And every moment burned with that fire,” he sings. Hinchliffe isn’t really missed until the middle of The Hungry Saw, which is padded with a few pleasant but unnecessary instrumentals, “E-Type” and “The Organist Entertains.” Staples rebounds, though, with a trio of winners to round out the album. “Boobar Come Back to Me” features acoustic strumming, gentle tambourine and, best of all, Staples backing his own vocals with old-school soul repetitions. The spare arrangement of “All the Love” makes Staples’ sad lyrics even more austere. And the closer, “The Turns We Took,” features all the characteristics of Tindersticks’ first-tier songs like “Tiny Tears” and “Running Wild” (both of which were featured in key moments of The Sopranos): a catchy chorus, classic weepy strings, and Staples sounding appealingly remorseful about some past event, whether it was the breaking of a heart or just the temporary breakup of a band.