Saint Etienne are a salutary reminder of the exalted pleasures that pop music can afford. This is attested to by the flowery, pretentious sleeve notes which sometimes accompany their albums (like Julie Burchill's OTT blurb on Too Young To Die). But their music is so fantastic it seems to demand that it gets written about in such inflated terms. Listening to Saint Etienne is the sound of summer, of candy floss, of nostalgic retro-chic. But their music is far more than just clever pastiche. Their songs are melodic, moving and always well-crafted. Good Humor may well be their best album of all.
The album goes for a straight-ahead pop sound- there are little in the way of the clubby rhythms which characterised Foxbase Alpha or Tiger bay, although the opener Woodcabin's slinky bassline, and the breakbeat in the middle of Goodnight Jack both tip a nod to the dance-crazy period of the mid-90s. Otherwise it's just classic pop all the way. Sarah coos away gorgeously (what red-blooded man wouldn't want her whispering in his ear at night?), and the arrangements are lush but never overly complicated. There isn't a single weak track, although my favourites are the breezy Split-Screen (with its parping Bacharach-style horns), the sumptuous, filmic melancholy of Postman, and the unashamed kitsch-pop of The Bad Photographer, whose ridiculously catchy chorus (##"All for yo-ou-ouuuu"##) will have you singing along with glee.
I can't really recommend this album highly enough- Saint Etienne are up there in the pantheon of Pop with Abba, The Beach Boys and others, and Good Humor is about as good as they've ever done.