Friday, September 10, 2010

Saint Etienne - Finisterre (2002)

Incase you haven't been paying attention, the theme this week has been all about girl power(!); female fronted bands/artists. Saint Etienne's dainty leading lady Sarah Cracknell has been lending her smooth and effortless vocals to the band since their first album Foxbase Alpha. Although the band's sounds are mostly contrived by Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs, Ian Catt, and a revolving cast of others, Cracknell's lyrical and vocal contributions to the band have always shown her to be adept as a song-writer.

It was really hard for me to choose just one Saint Etienne album to post today. Each and every LP has its special charm, even the compilations of b-sides and singles; they've yet to falter. They're the most eclectic and versatile electronic dance/pop act in the field. The band has been through so many stylistic transitions since their inception, their extensive palette (techno, house, dub, ambient, soul, etc.) and ability to adapt have always kept them sounding fresh and original.

After the wonderfully balanced Good Humor, which marked a lighter direction, and then the easy, moody, less dance-oriented Sound of Water in 2000, Finisterre, with its upbeat groovy electro, is a fierce return to form for the band. It's a cornucopia, but not a revisitation of their previous works. The album accompanies a film about London directed by Paul Kelly and features interludes by Michael Jayston which make the album feel like a cohesive, singular piece. Saint Etienne is a band who knows how to make a hit, but also knows how to experiment a little and make a solid album, and that's a rare thing in pop music.

Rating: 9/10

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