Saint Etienne Sound Of Water

Here is a band known for their absolute dedication to the pop aesthetic, and Sound Of Water is no exception. The difference with this album is obvious: this is a mellow record - a record meant for early morning listening, as opposed to driving around the countryside in convertibles. Produced by the band themselves in Berlin, the album should still manage to put a smile on your face, but don't be expecting too many toe-tapping pop anthems. The work here is more introspective and the CD is even peppered with a few instrumentals, such as the lovely intro track "Late Morning." Those yearning for the sugary sweet voice of Sarah Cracknell will be appeased by tracks like "Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)" or "How We Used To Live," a near-ten minute opus that is an ambitious piece of work in roughly three separate parts. The album has its downsides, namely the aforementioned lack of energy and their awkward attempt to jazz things up on "Boy Is Crying." Nonetheless, Saint Etienne never promised to keep making the same pop records over and over, and nearing their tenth year as a band, it's about time they tried something a little different, such as enlisting the High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan, who assists in the musical arrangements. The flowery and self-appreciating liner notes are handled this time by music journo Simon Reynolds (SPIN), taking over the job previously held by author and fan Douglas Coupland. Sound Of Water is unique, and unfolds with a sleek, silky, more electronic sound than Good Humour. It may be a little unexpected, but it is a sweet treat indeed. (Mantra)