Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saint Etienne - "Good Humor"

Saint Eitenne was at the forefront a 90s, electro-dance pop outbreak in the UK, while most of us in the States were riding the garage-rock wave created by Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Green Day et al. So here we are, older and wiser, digging back through the annals to re-discover Saint Etienne. Our first foray into this London-based electronica sensation came in the form of their sophomore release So Tough (1993/Warner Bros). It was the creativeness of their sound that sold us; combining cliché house beats, with interesting rhythmic-vocal lines, forward-thinking pop riffs and overlaid cheesy, yet tantalizing, movie quotes/sci-fi sounds (insert Strong Bad techno video here.) -- we were hooked. Front-woman Sarah Cracknell's voice recalls JJ, Neko Case, and Basia the sound? Good.  So what did we expect when we bought 1998's Sub Pop-released (whatttt?) album Good Humor? More of the same? WRONG. (PS - iTunes doesn't have this one folks.)

After some afternoon beers, we sat down and put this record on. What came through the speaks was a well-produced, well-mixed and tightly engineered, soulful-pop album; shedding electronic beats for a full band sound, Saint Etienne dip well into the 1960s psyche-pop  realm and pull out a winner. While a bit front-loaded, this album was a pleasant surprise equipped with jazz flute, crackling snare hits and spot-on vocals. You can do a different type of dance to this record; save the Jersey shore fist pump and repleace it with a twist, or hell, a shout. Roll your head in a circular motion, arms akimbo and dance. We were happy with this buy. Very happy. Go forth and find this record, buy it and love it.

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