Tales From Turnpike House





As a fan of British pop from the early '90s, Saint Etienne first caught my ear with their fantastic cover of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". Even with a few hits fifteen years ago, along with mountains of talent, this group drifted into obscurity for a solid decade. During that time, Saint Etienne have accomplished a feat that is rare in music: they have improved with age. While you can still hear glimmers of the electro-pop from their earlier singles that invaded our turntables so many years ago, the one word that comes to mind when describing their latest effort is sophisticated. Not country club, snooty sophisticated, but grown-up and mature. They have perfected this elegant pop sound into what might as well be classified as a genre of their own. The group's new album, Tales From Turnpike House, is a mighty fine concept album based around the residents of an apartment building. Kicking off with "Side Streets", we are quickly soothed by the beautiful Sarah Cracknell's comforting voice, which is kept afloat by layers of Beach Boys inspired harmonies. This mellow, bossa nova flavored track is followed by the upbeat goodness of "A Good Thing", showing that the group has not abandoned their early roots. They push those dance roots even further on tracks such as "Lightening Strikes Twice", which features a dark groove and an infectious chorus that is simply fantastic. When listening to this album you can't help but think of the female pop from artists such as Annie or Kylie, but taken to a whole different level. Another brilliant moment is "Stars Above Us", mashing more of their Beach Boys harmonies with a sick disco beat that guarantees a booty-shaking good time. For those of us who still look back to Foxbase Alpha with fond memories, Tales From Turnpike House is a brilliant album to help kick off 2006. With what is easily one of their finest releases to date, let's hope it is not their last.

Saint Etienne
Savoy Jazz

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Tales From Turnpike House