LONDON, UK (Top40 Charts/ Bang On PR)
When Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley talks about their forthcoming album "Words and Music
by Saint Etienne", he affectionately refers to the "strange magic" of pop. About the special alchemy that transmutes even the most mundane of experiences - walking home with the headphones on at night, sitting in a bedroom with your friends in the day, getting ready to go out on the weekend - into a lingering moment of seamless enchantment, one that resonates for the rest of your life.
Saint Etienne, you see, are a band who have had an immutable and enduring relationship with pop music and that pristine pop moment. From the distinctly English sonic collages of their groundbreaking debut "Foxbase Alpha" through to the darker folk-inflected turns of "Tiger Bay" and even the glacial electronic landscapes of "Sound of Water", the history of pop has clearly had a powerful impression on the trio of Pete Wiggs, Sarah
Cracknell and Bob Stanley, with the result being that for this, their ninth studio album, they have assembled what constitutes a long form aural essay explicitly exploring the throughline of themes and memories triggered by music which has run through their entire body of work.
As Stanley elaborates, "Words and Music
by Saint Etienne" is an album 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", he sums up, "the album is about believing in music, living your life by its rules".
To that end, the album opens with "Over the Border", a wry, moving spoken-word reflection with singer Sarah
Cracknell ruminating on her first, tentative steps into a lifelong love affair with pop, beginning with her using "Top of the Pops as my world atlas" as a child, before mixtapes from first loves soundtrack her teenage years; finally she asks "when I was married, and when I had kids, would Marc Bolan still be so important?" It's a powerful, emblematic introduction to the album, one that sees the unabashed, glitter strewn, delirious disco highs of "I've Got Your Music" and "DJ" sit comfortably alongside the gorgeous, plaintive laments of "I Threw it All Away" and "25 Years". But from Cracknell calling for salvation through song in the gospel-tinged "Record Doctor" right through to her chanting "tonight when the lights are going down/ I will surrender to the sound" on taster single "Tonight
", the endlessly emotive, sometimes redemptive relationship between music and listener has never been so celebrated and revered, and through the LP there isn't a moment when Saint Etienne
break that pact.
In the course of their work, Saint Etienne
have always celebrated the greats of pop past - Stanley credits Goffin and King, Mann and Weil, Greenwich and Barry with helping him to understand relationships at a formative age, for instance - but with "Words and Music
By Saint Etienne" they have made an album which sees them join that rich lineage, those writers of pop songs full of strange magic. Tracks such as "When I Was 17" and the aforementioned "Tonight
" (produced by Girls Aloud
lynchpin Tim Powell and mixed by Richard X) see the group as vital and fresh as ever. Surrender to the sound now; as the group say, there's no turning back.
Upcoming Live Dates
will be joined on tour by Summer Camp, 2 Bears (dj set), Stereo
Venus, Lightships, Edgar Jones, Colorama on the following dates:
Tues 22nd May - Leadmill, Sheffield (support Stereo
Weds 23rd May Oran Mor, Glasgow (support Lightships) www.ticketmaster.co.uk
Thurs 24th May - Kazimer, Liverpool (support Edgar Jones) www.ticketweb.co.uk
Fri 25th May - Gate Theatre, Cardiff (support Colorama) www.seetickets.com
Sat 26th May - Assembly, Leamington Spa (support, Stereo
Mon 28th May - Palladium, London (support Summer Camp and 2 Bears DJ Set) www.gigsandtours.com