gullbuy music review

Saint Etienne






Saint EtienneMany people have been writing that Finisterre sound like Saint Etienne in their Tiger Bay days. I don't really want to say that it does or doesn't, but I am clear in thinking that Finisterre sounds like Saint Etienne NOW.

I love this disc - in fact, it is currently my favorite record by them. Seven of the twelve songs are faves of mine. The only song I'm not crazy for is B92. B92 honors Thin Lizzy with its 'the boys are back in town' lyric, but the song just doesn't pull me in like the other tracks do.

Finisterre starts off with the current single Action. I like the song a lot, but always skip past it, as I played the single a zillion times already. That leaves Amateur as the start proper of Finisterre for me.

Amateur is a great cut that shows Saint Etienne moving with the times. It is practically an Electroclash cut. People who like Ladytron will do well to start with Amateur. I like the lyric, the vocal, and the music. It's all good.

Language Lab is next. This instrumental starts off quiet, with acoustic guitar, piano and accordion. Then all of a sudden it picks up into a groove that reminds me of the theme from the 70s US TV show Sanford and Son. The flute which carries the melody is about the best sounding flute I can imagine, and the plunky Fender bass sound fits in perfectly. Even though it doesn't feature the scrumptious Sarah Cracknell at all, Language Lab is one of my favorite tracks.

The second single from Finisterre will be Soft Like Me. It is my favorite track from the record. The chorus of this track reminds me of the Scottish band Prefab Sprout. 'Hey, do you wanna be, don't you wanna be, soft like me.' In a grand Saint Etienne tradition, there is a guest vocalist supplementing the song. The guest is a gal named Willow that speak/raps through the verses of the song. The sentiment of Soft Like Me reminds me of the catch phrase of the English magazine Living Etc. - 'Staying in is the new going out.' No, they're not talking about avoiding clubs: Living Etc. is talking about the pleasure of building comfortable surroundings around where you live, a theme Saint Etienne seem to support. Living Etc. even featured Sarah's London flat in a 2001 issue.

Summerisle has a bit of a crooning feel to it. It is a moody track that I like a lot. Stop and Think It Over is very Motown to me. It is not a jump up and dance kind of track, but a more reflective song, like the best girl groups would pull out of their hats when their manager wasn't manipulating them.

Shower Scene (is the title a nod to Felix Da Housecat?) musically reminds me of an older Saint Etienne song Burnt Out Car. I love both songs.

The Way We Live Now tips its hat to two older Saint Etienne songs. The title seems to tie in with the song How We Used To Live from The Sound Of Water. Musically, the beginning of The Way We Live Now sounds a bit like Hug My Soul.

New Thing is a very immediate and catchy song. I'll bet it ends up as the third single from Finisterre. If I wanted to play one song from this record to someone, I would probably choose New Thing.

The More You Know is a dark track with sharp electronics, probably influenced by the band's friendship with the Lippok brothers of To Rococo Rot and Tarwater. It is very mysterious and shadowy.

The closing track is the title song Finisterre. This is a gem. The guest vocalist Sarah Churchill gives the song a similar feel to Black Box Recorder's signature song Child Psychology. The chorus of Finisterre 'Finisterre, to tear it down, and start again' has been going through my head for days, reminding my of the Dexy Midnight Runner's song'Geno' in a way. Sarah Churchill tells us 'I believe that music in the long run can straighten out most things. there are too many bands act lame, sound tame. I believe in Electrelane. Over here it's new, it's now, it's you, it's clean.'

I believe Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs, and Sarah Cracknell have given us a great reason to believe in them.

---Carl, October 22, 2002