Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne traffic in opposites: A product of dismal Thatcher-era England, the trio buried its late-'80s angst in candied dance-pop that conflated disco's feel-good throb with girl-group élan and '60s-pop melodies, only to go live-band for 1998's sparkling Good Humor, hooking up with Cardigans producer Tore Johansson at the exact moment when dance music faced a fair shake in America. Its follow-up, 2000's Sound of Water, ditched the ebullience altogether, countering the dot-com boom with a hunk of brainy, micromanaged German electronica. Finisterre, the band's new disc, is an ostensible return to form--lead single "Action" is readymade club manna, and rejuvenated electro beats lace a handful of tracks--but as such it's just another clever Etienne mind game: What kind of moment is ours for music this radiant? And why does its sleeve feature a dilapidated housing project? They even flip the script on all those tough-MC/smooth-singer radio hits that clogged the radio this year on "Soft Like Me," a dazzling duet between front woman Sarah Cracknell and U.K. rapper Wildflower that big-ups sugar, spice and everything nice--each woman individually plays both Ja Rule and Ashanti with breathless politesse. Playful iconoclasts with hearts of fool's gold, Saint Etienne might be pop's smartest players.

Upcoming Events


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >