SAINT ETIENNE
San Francisco Chronicle Review

Saint Etienne, despite its distinctly French name, has made a career out of doing for London what the film "Amelie" did for Paris -- painting over the great city's cracks with romantic notes and wistful, vintage charm. On its latest album, however, the electronic pop trio attempts to face reality. Set in one of London's many low-income-housing high-rises, "Tales From Turnpike House," could have easily sounded crass or condescending. But the music remains rooted in the same sun-kissed melodies and soft bossa nova rhythms that are featured on all the group's other releases, and the lyrics tread gingerly, focusing not on crime and despair (apart from the occasional mugging) but the simple triumphs of daily life such as falling in love and waking up to one more sunrise. -- Aidin Vaziri