Skip to main content

Love Letter to Saint Etienne

Whenever I have the energy and/or patience, I will be doing these features where I discuss a band/musician who has left an impact on me. You are welcome to contribute as well! theuselesscritic@gmail.com.



Saint Etienne


It took me several long years to warm up the retro pop sounds that define Saint Etienne. The music this band has made since the early '90s has been nothing but lush and intoxicating. Even Norwegian pop star Annie has claimed the three-piece band as a huge inspiration for her sound; Lush and Kylie Minogue have similar stories to share.

Saint Etienne is not a band extremely popular in the United States. I don't know if they ever really have been. On the indie circuit, yeah, sure. But pretty much everyone- music snob or not- knows Goldfrapp, for example. Saint Etienne? Not so much. When you're really into music, you'll come across Saint Etienne eventually. I heard them the first time when I was in high school. And they didn't make much of an impression on me at the time; I brushed them aside and only listened to them in passing when I was in college.

Several years later, out of college, I gave Saint Etienne a chance. I had known a lot of people who appreciated them. And because I loved Annie and Robyn and all that girly Europop stuff, they were like "Oh, you need to listen to Saint Etienne. You need to listen to them!" (said in condescending music douchebag.) 

I really discovered them when I moved to Phoenix. For whatever reason, I was compelled to listen them one afternoon. The song "Mario's Cafe" in particular reminded me of spring - and I don't know per se, it conjured nostalgic feelings for me of things that never happened.


That was my gateway drug into really becoming a Saint Etienne fan. It was 2012 and there couldn't have been better timing - "Words and Music," their most recent album, just came out. Saint Etienne has been a band since 1990, so it marked their 22nd year together. 

It was a near-perfect album.

The band said this about "Words and Music"-

(It's about) "how music affects your life. How it defines the way you see the world as a child, how it can get you through bad times in unexpected ways, and how songs you've known all your life can suddenly develop a new attachment, and hurt every time you hear them. More than how it affects and reflects your life though, the album is about believing in music, living your life by its rules."

I think for any true fan of music- this is 100-percent applicable. Saint Etienne captured that sentiment PERFECTLY. I mean, take "Over the Border." With the exception of some classic rock songs, I can't think of any track that captures the bittersweetness of growing older. The really interesting part was that the band chose to use music itself- Marc Bolan and NME -as a backdrop for coming of age. 

"Tonight" is the euphoria of going out for a night with your friends- and with a sense of possibility about what the night holds. "I've Got Your Music" is missing someone, but somehow having them around with their music. "Last Days of Disco" is pretty sensual- I will leave that there. :)



I listened to "Words and Music" a lot summer 2012. 2012 in general was my Saint Etienne year. Although now- with February days away- I'm embracing them again. Like an old sweater. 


And really, let's not lie. Sarah Cracknell is a goddess. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm her...I will never be that cool.

Oh, and Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs are GENUISES. 

So, here's my love letter to Saint Etienne. I hope you listen to them at some point, if you haven't already. They are such an underrated, legendary, self-aware band. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3 New Lana Songs Come Out From Upcoming Album "Blue Banisters"

Not even that far off from "Chemtrails Over The Country Club" being released this past March, Lana Del Rey dropped three new singles off her upcoming project, "Blue Banisters." They include the title track, "Text Book," and "Wildflower Wildfire." All three songs seem to merge the worlds of "COCC" with "Norman Fucking Rockwell," specifically Lana's mouthful of a track "Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me To Have But I Have It." They also seem uncharacteristically more confessional than most of Lana's catalog to date, specifically "Wildflower Wildfire," which alludes to a conflict with her mother. She even starts the track with "Here's the deal," readying to show more of her backstory than she ever has in her decade-plus-long career. The three songs are gorgeous - especially "Text Book," which has a haunting quality to it (she mentions "Black Lives Matter" i

Tusse releases French Language Version of "Voices"

In case you missed Eurovision this past weekend - and if you're an American, you likely did - there were some truly talented acts among those competing for this year's prestigious title. There were some pretty boring acts, and there were only a few of truly strange contestants this time around (bummer).  Sweden's act Tusse was pretty talented; his joyful and uplifting track "Voices" was actually one of the few that seemed rather memorable to me. Turns out he's releasing it in French - which makes sense, as Tusse is Kongo-Kinshasa born. Tusse is enormously popular in Sweden from what I can tell, having won both Melodifestivalen (Sweden's precursor to Eurovision) and Swedish Idol. He's a talented guy, and I'm sure we're just seeing the start of what is bound to be a long and prolific career.   (you might not be able to watch this outside of Sweden so, see below) The French version of "Voices" is available for streaming here .  Also, whi

"Round the Bend" - Zoon (Beck cover)

My favorite album of Beck's has long been "Sea Change," for approximately the 20 or so years it's been out. I would probably regard it as one of my personal favorite records, for its wistfulness and its beauty. When I heard about Zoon (aka Zoongide’ewin) - the musical project of Daniel Monkman - covering the "Sea Change" track "Round the Bend," I was somewhat skeptical simply because the album holds such a place in my heart. Now, prior to hearing about this cover, I wasn't so familiar with the work of Zoon. And now, I've got to say, in my best Owen Wilson - Wow.  Apparently we both hold the 2003 Beck album in high esteem. Said Daniel about "Sea Change," "After my first listen I was so moved and at the time I was going through a pretty bad break up and this album helped me process my depression. Throughout my time away from music I’d always have a copy beside me; it kept inspiring me that I could try any kind of music style. I