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If your first thought upon hearing of this release was "What the heck is British dance-lounge-pop act Saint Etienne doing on an American jazz label?," you are not alone. When you discover that the record in question is a full-on concept album and that David "Rock On" Essex is on the thing, you might wonder if the album might be sort of a muddled mess. And it is, though not in a bad way. Vocalist Sarah Cracknell sounds great throughout, but except for "Stars Above Us," the more straight ahead dance-pop songs fall a bit flat. But the rest is great, maybe even the band's best yet. More than half the songs (which offer slices of life in a housing project on the outskirts of London kind of like that famous Georges Perec book) do achieve an ideal of jet set sophistication. The songs pit house rhythms with sardonic name-dropping lyrics, vocal harmonies worthy of the Association with swooshy synthesizers, and big guitar riffs against whispered voices. It's swank! –Mike McGonigal