Saint Etienne – Tales from the Turnpike House (Savoy Jazz)
The Big Takeover .com

While Saint Etienne have always been a smart and stylish group, I would never classify them as jazz. Yet Savoy has licensed Tales… for US release (due out January 24; Sanctuary has already released the LP in the UK) and it plays like a career sampler of Saint Etienne. While “Lightning Strikes Twice” stormy techno would have fit comfortably on previous LP Finisterre, the Beach Boys-vibe of “Sun in My Morning” could have been on sophomore LP So Tough (itself named after a Brother Records-era Beach Boys LP). The monologue on “Teenage Winter” harks back to debut LP Foxbase Alpha and the
funky disco of “Stars Above Us” sparkles like the classic non-LP single “He’s on the Phone.” So what’s new? The big step forward on Tales… is the sophisticated harmony vocal arrangements, which reach a sensationally lush climax on a capella LP closer “Goodnight;” after hearing it, I realized that
a jazz label may be just the right home for Saint Etienne’s eccentric eclecticism.