Words and Music by Saint Etienne
Jul 19, 2012 Web Exclusive
London's Saint Etienne may not appreciate the following allegory, so I'll offer my profuse apologies in advance.
Following the release of their third album Final Straw, Snow Patrol were in the running for the "Best New Artists" at a plethora of Brit-esque award shows that no one remembers a week after they're aired. Putting the quality of their work aside, nominating the band for a new artists award in light of it being their third full-length album seemed like a bit of a slight, assuming them to be among the slurry of MOR, soft-rock new acts that cropped up on British radio stations in the middle part of the 2000s.
Considering the girl-with-synth-led electropop aesthetic that has been a mainstay of Saint Etienne since their 1990 inception, it would be a temptation for the uninitiated to lump them in with the wave of like-sounding artists such as Little Boots who have similarly cropped up over the past couple of years. New album Words and Music by Saint Etienne, inelegantly blunt title aside, gives the rest of us very little reason to set them apart from their female alt-pop contemporaries.
Naturally this album isn't especially unpleasant. Opener "Over the Border" may have verses peppered with faux-estuary English à la Lily Allen and gratingly "Bri'ish" lyrics that reference buying "my first single from Woolies in Redhill," but at its heart is one of the most pleasantly chilled, catchy choruses of this year. That which follows throughout Words and Music amounts to little more than an attempt to scale the same heights; sweet vocals, minimalist keys with the odd guitar thrown in, and on the likes of eerie highlight "Twenty Five Years" plenty of sultry hooks. It could be argued that the bonus disc of remixes is more interesting than the album itself. Particularly strong are The Time and Space Machine Waltzer remix of "Heading for the Fair" and Two Bears' rendition of "Tonight," where all of the pleasantness of the group's work are chopped up and obfuscated by dance beats and loops. (http://www.saintetienne.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 8/10