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4.6 out of 5 stars
Words And Music By Saint Etienne
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2012
I must admit to being a fairly recent convert to the Saint Etienne cause. I'd got You're in a bad way ages ago on a mixed compilation album and really liked it. I'd heard of them but didn't know too much about them, they seemed to bypass me in the 90s. I came across London Conversations and decided to take a chance, after listening to it i was totally blown away and i am now cursing myself for not finding them earlier.
I had high expectations for the new album and i wasn't disappointed. The theme of the album is that Music affects our lives in many different ways and reminds us of good times, bad times and defining moments in our lives. The opening track Over the Border takes me back over 30 years when listening to the Charts on Radio 1 was a weekly ritual and my bedroom wall was covered in posters of my favourite Bands. There isn't a duff track on the album from the bouncy DJ to the beautiful I threw it all away!!!
What sets Saint Etienne apart are the interesting lyrics, great tunes and the superb voice of Sarah Cracknell. I was lucky enough to see them recently at the London Palladium and they put on a great show, Sarah never seemed to stop smiling, it's great when the Artist is enjoying it as much as the Fans.
I can't rate this Album highly enough and have been playing it constantly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2012
This is the first St Etienne album that I have bought, I was tempted to try them out having read several favourable reviews. The album is themed on their love of pop music, an interesting concept. The opening track Over the Border has a rundown of what its like to be an obsessive music fan, telling of a trip to see Peter Gabriel's house while still at school, asking whether Marc Bolan's music will still matter as much in the future, and giving a potted history of their love of music. Lots of namecheck references for those in the know,clever and sophisticated stuff. Subsequent tracks with titles like Record Doctor, I've Got Your Music, Last Days of Disco, and Haunted Jukebox continue to focus on the allure of pop music. Overall the arrangements are poppy, the lyrics give an insight into what has been a lifelong obsession with popular music, and it probably strikes a chord with anyone now in their early 50's, who is likely to pick up on the nuances of the in jokes and specific references made. This is not my usual bag, but it has a lot to commend it , and I am impressed that they have maintained the concept successfully throughout a whole album. For those who are into such things, there is a bonus album of remixes of selected tracks, with various producers playing around with selected tracks , but the main original album is the one that I personally enjoy the most. The artwork on the cover is fascinating in its own right, a pastiche of a street map like you would find in an A-Z, with all the road names refering to past popular hit records such as Penny Lane, Devil Gate Drive, Ventura Highway, Yellow Brick Road etc. Like the music on the CD, you can have lots of fun trying to spot the influence and getting the references to the music knowledge . Good stuff, highly entertaining , nod is as good as a wink humorous hooks abound.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Its been seven long years since Saint Etienne last graced us with a brand spanking new studio album; it began to look as if 2005's Tales From Turnpike House might prove to be their swansong - but they're back at last, and they've put their long hiatus to good use by providing us with a 24 karat pop nugget.

The band have always come up with stunning singles, but their albums could be a little patchy at times - experiments that just didn't quite work or melodies that didn't quite fulfill their potential. The last album was one of their most consistently strong to date, and this new release follows in the same vein. There are highs of course: gorgeous bittersweet opener Over The Border and uplifting pop rushes Tonight and DJ for instance. However there are no tracks where I felt my finger creeping towards the skip button on repeated listenings. The mood is mainly upbeat, albeit with touches of nostalgic regret, and the sound is mostly Saint Etienne's patented blend of effervescent pop influences from the Sixties to the Noughties, although there's a moving folk ballad, I Threw It All Away, towards the end - and there's more than enough variety in the melodies to prevent any suggestion of repetition.

The theme of the album is music - the effect our favourite music has upon us, the memories it evokes, the emotions it stirs...and the question of what role music plays in our lives as we get older - can it still stir and excite us as it once did? I think I can safely say, as long as Saint Etienne keep making great records like this, the answer is definitely yes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2012
Over the Border is a standout track. As a indie fan of the 80s and 90s, who is married with kids the lyrics are very fitting.

All through the album there's references to getting older and growing more mature, but against such beautiful pop music is quite rare.

Other great tracks are Tonight and when i was seventeen but the album is great. Musically it is like modern Kylie, scissor sisters or Madonna- but lyrically it is way ahead of these artists.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2012
Always had a soft spot for Saint Etienne, but sort of drifted away for reasons unknown. Did we fall out? Where the hell have all those albums come from on Amazon? Will it be kind of awkward? So, the doorbell went and as I helped 'Words and Music' out of it's Amazon box, outside a perfect English summer downpour, I was starting to think it was not going to work.

This soon changed. Listening to the opener 'Over The Border', I realised it's me that should be making the apologies in this reunion. I settled down. we had a lot to catch up on.

Saint Etienne always like to spell out a sense of time and space, weather directly in lyrics or through production styles. They need you to know the 'when and where'. So there's a wistful, bold intent on this first track to say, hey - it's OK to be someone who grew up with Factory Records, NME, Top of the Pops - your're not alone. That's always going to get a codger like me on-side. The track itself is a real stunner though, with that effortless and non-sickly 70's sheen that no one else can do (except perhaps Air on occasion). A great way to set the tone of the album.

That's not to say this is all Foxbase Alpha from there on in. There's some great synth pop workouts here, New Order style (by that I mean latterday New Order, once they got transatlantic sunshine, clubs and sports cars in their lives) that really suit SE. Sarah Cracknell's delivery is still perfect. Underrated doesn't come close.

But the theme of music as a life lived and still living is central to the album, and it does do this in a way without going for the obvious retro tag or just because SE know that they are no spring chickens (although the inside pic of the trio does look like it's from the about us page of an architectural firm's website). 'When I was Seventeen' is very nicely done.

Onto disc 2, which is the album again in a remixed form, and it's up for a bop. In fact, I remember now the early pull for me with Saint Etienne was some of their remix work with the likes of the Chemical Brothers (then the Dust Brothers). Always brought the best out in producers. Some of the remixes are a little sparse, but most keep the song intact albeit with some great basslines and mint drum programming. 'DJ' (which is purely made for the remixes?) gets treatment from Muddyloop that builds on hands-in-air chords into a real dubby 808 tribal sound. Yep, SE have not their ears for a great remix or two.

So all good, a great evening and best of friends again. I just need to pick my way carefully through that mass (my god, what were they on?) of older albums that I've missed without over cooking things. Still, should be a most enjoyable chore.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2012
I really cannot believe how good this album is. It is quite extraodinary that any band can write so many perfect pop songs on one album, let alone a band that has been around since 1990. You would think that by now they might have run out of good tunes, but no this release is chock a block with blisteringly good melodies. I defy anyone to try and keep their toes from tapping to these songs. Its pop but its really really good pop. To be honest it must be embarrassing for other bands because St Etienne make it all sound so very easy. The deluxe edition is worth getting because the remixes, so often a disappointment are absolutely fabulous. The track listings however are a bit of a mystery as the front of the sleeve contradicts the back but I guess I am too old or drunk to work out if they are supposed to be like that! If you like dance/pop music then you will not find a better album than this, excellent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2012
My favourite Saint Etiennne album was always... TIGER BAY, ...... my favourite single was He's on The phone....

Now its. This album, and i cant pick a single anymore........ any one of these on here?

They have at last produced the "pure pop" album that many would have expected after "He's on the phone" was a hit all those years ago.....

Brilliant......

Perfect.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2012
This album is AMAZING! I've had it on repeat for 24 hours and I am in love with it. Every song creeps into the brain with a killer hook. Sarah Cracknell sounds so good! I love Track 1 - that was me too- Smash Hits! Record Collector! Posters on my wall! Can it really be that long since Saint Etienne cracked the charts with "only love will break your heart"?! The years go quickly but the music is always here. This is classic Saint Etienne - vintage modern. Soak this up and play this all summer - I will be.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2012
I bought this on impluse after reading some positive reviews and I must say it exceeded my expectations. This really is sublime pop music for grown ups. I love the subject of the opener "Over the Border", which takes me back to my youth. The quality is consistent throughout, with a depth and intelligence sadly lacking from a lot of pop music nowerdays.

A real feel good album that will make you smile and sing along at the same time.

Im off to check out their earlier stuff now.
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on 8 January 2013
I must admit to St Etienne being my guilty pleasure. The song construction and sheer musicality always is acheived. I love Sarah's voice and the way the lyrics fit the wonderful arrangements. So now we come to this album. Oh joy, is the only description of the first album in the deluxe package, everything a St Etienne fan could possibly desire. Then we come to the second album. Oh dear, what divot allowed this into the package? St Etienne are all about quirkiness and I can't say that any of the repetitious rubbish on the second album fits that description. I've given it a four, but only because I still remain a fan.
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