Saint Etienne – Tales From Turnpike House
IN Magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 22 - December 13-26, 2005

Fifteen years into their colorful career, you'd think St. Etiennwould've run out of steam by now. On the contrary, it looks like this terrific trio has discovered some kind of wonderfully new and inspiring muse. Probably the most Brit-centric collection since Blur's Parklife, this concept disc revolves around the goings-on in a suburban London high-rise, weaving charming and vivid tales like a rustic soundtrack from a late '60s documentary. The album opens with the breezily optimistic, signature sounding 'Side Street' and 'Sun In My Morning' - an acoustic strum that woozily blossoms with winsome harmonies and a light flute solo - and the electro-percolating 'Milk Bottle Symphony.'

Meanwhile, 'Lightning Strikes Twice' and 'Oh My' feel brand new for the group - two almost Kylie-esque dark dance tracks, with the latter name-checking everyone from Brad Pitt to Stevie Nicks to Josie & The Pussycats. Similarly, 'Last Orders For Gary Stead' is the sound of a gritty guitar line and breezy melody grabbing a pint at the local pub. Musically, their creative palette is a mix of gentle disco synthpop and exquisitely crafted arrangements that frequently recall a Brian Wilson-esque influence, most fully realized on 'Goodnight,' and the instrumental 'The Birdman of EC1.' This is clearly an A+ comeback for the group, and as angelic vocalist Sarah Cacknell opines 'This is something that you're waiting for' on the luscious 'Teenage Winter,' by disc's end that's an understatement. Mark your calendar for this arriving in early January.