Finisterre

Finisterre

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by Saint Etienne
     
 

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"Need to make it special/need to make it new," coos Sarah Cracknell on "Action," the opening track to Saint Etienne's sixth album. After a decade of wedding fresh club beats to Cracknell's sugary, girl-group melodies and vocals, the British trio might be on guard against the formulaic, but that's hardly a concern on Finisterre,See more details below

Overview

"Need to make it special/need to make it new," coos Sarah Cracknell on "Action," the opening track to Saint Etienne's sixth album. After a decade of wedding fresh club beats to Cracknell's sugary, girl-group melodies and vocals, the British trio might be on guard against the formulaic, but that's hardly a concern on Finisterre, whose thoughtfully constructed grooves and lyrics will incite as much body moving as synaptic satisfaction. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs still sculpt their tasteful tracks from an array of interesting source material -- house beats, plush synths, snaking keyboard lines, live acoustic and electric guitars, and lots more. Yet while the music carries all the seduction of the dance floor and bedroom beatmaking, it's Cracknell's vocals and lyrics that bring the songs home, as she sings of time passing, friendship, and female empowerment. Her icing-sweet voice takes the cake on many songs, including the white-soul slow dance "Stop and Think It Over," where her velvety singing bobs atop cushiony keyboards. She shares the mic with rapper Wildflower for the feminist musings of "Soft like Me," the upstart's floetic verses providing the perfect foil to Cracknell's billowy, melodic chorus. Elsewhere, her wistful vocal threads a melancholy vein through the beats on "Shower Scene" (a song up there with the Pet Shop Boys' finest moments) and the throbbing, krautrock synths percolating on "Amateur." Peppered with eerie male vocal samples that suggest a post-millennial demonstration record, the dozen songs on Finisterre reaffirm Saint Etienne's status as a premier pop group, one whose buoyant symphonies handily engage the body, mind, and soul.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
A return or a retread? Regardless of where you stand with this group as a fan (whether you detest Good Humor and Sound of Water or not), it's a bit of both. Those who've been waiting nearly a decade for the group to return to the messy but masterful patchwork anti-formula formula of the first three albums should be happy with this one. Like So Tough and Foxbase Alpha, the flow of the album is charmingly disjointed and seemingly made up of tangents -- albeit the kind of tangents for which most pop groups would happily exchange their Sarah discographies in order to call just one their own. In that sense, Finisterre is a return, forsaking the unified approaches taken on both Good Humor and Sound of Water. But the album resembles what many longtime fans would call a blatant return -- a return in lieu of new ideas (to borrow). The group's bright and shimmery dance-pop instincts are practically oozing out of one-third of these songs, though none of them quite scale the heights of the group's best material. If another third of the album didn't sound like it could've only been made in the wake of the electro (not electro) revival, it could've been released at any point during the latter half of the '90s. The remainder of the album, along with some of the electro-leaning material, mines melancholy and occasionally dark territories. In fact, there are no sweeping string arrangements, no delicately strummed acoustic guitars, and nary a whistle-worthy melody within the album's last four songs. Still, Saint Etienne remain England's best pop group -- they only look bad when they're compared to themselves, and this album, for all its shortcomings, has a handful of moments capable of making you think that they are the best pop group to have ever existed.
Rolling Stone
A gem for the highly sensitive.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/22/2002
Label:
Beggars Uk - Ada
UPC:
0609008103326
catalogNumber:
81033

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Saint Etienne   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Saint Etienne   Producer
Mark Perry   Liner Notes
Michael Jayston   Contributor
Ian Catt   Producer
Nick Coler   Contributor
Sarah Cracknell   Contributor
Bob Stanley   Contributor
Pete Wiggs   Contributor
Gerard Johnson   Contributor
si-{cut}.db   Producer
Luke Gifford   Producer
Sean Read   Contributor
Jez Williams   Contributor
Brian Higgins   Contributor
Ben Edwards   Producer
Isabel Waidner   Producer
Paul "PK" Kelly   Cover Design
Guy Davie   Mastering
Sarah Churchill   Contributor
Mister Joshua   Producer

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