Music For Your Soul And Your Feet

It’s not as long as the Beach Boys or Dexys, but it’s been seven years since Saint Etienne’s last studio album. They have been pretty prolific since Tales From Turnpike House, with Christmas albums, film soundtracks and other bits, but this is the first bona fide studio album for a bit.

Saint Etienne’s sound may initially seem quite distant from the Beach Boys that they idolize (they are on the Mojo compilation Pet Sounds Revisited, covering Wouldn’t It Be Nice), but both bands do have roots in a classic pop sensibility.

While Tales From Turnpike House dabbed into Beach Boys-like harmonies, Word And Music By Saint Etienne heads more to the dancefloor and a shimmering sound that seems rooted in the 70s of Robin Gibb and Donna Summer. The theme of the album is the power of music in people’s lives, and the triple assault of catchy yet deep tunes, beats that want to make your feet move and lyrics that pay tribute to the muse in music help the album achieve it’s premise. There is a pleasing songcraft  throughout all thirteen tracks, with some of the standouts including the singles Tonight and I Got Your Music. Over The Border leads off as a more mellow warm-up, while Heading For The Fair, Answer Song and Haunted Jukebox are melodic gems that will still get your toes tapping.

Ultimately, this album is great escapism -one can see the flashing mirrorball and multi-coloured lights, as one gets away from reality, aided by the power of music. But there is also an understanding of the deeper, healing power of music and its influence in our daily lives.  It may sound very different to the Beach Boys, but Saint Etienne have also contributed to what has been a memorable musical year-and we’re not even halfway through.

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