Saint Etienne – “Pond House”

Saint Etienne – “Pond House”

For decades, Saint Etienne have been making thoughtful, sophisticated pop music that refracts the entire history of pop music through oblique lenses. 30 years ago, the London trio came out with a form of dance-pop that was rich in historical references, and that’s still what they’re doing now. This fall, the group will follow their 2017 album Home Counties with I’ve Been Trying To Tell You, a meditative and sample-based LP recorded remotely during quarantine.

Saint Etienne recorded I’ve Been Trying To Tell You with TV and film composer Gus Bousfield, and the album is built from samples drawn from a very particular four-year period, from 1997 to 2001. In a press release, Saint Etienne member Bob Stanley — who published the great music criticism book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story Of Modern Pop in 2013 — says, “To me, it’s about optimism and the late 90s and how memory is an unreliable narrator. Pete [Wiggs] and Gus have done a properly amazing production job. I think it sounds gorgeous.” I’ve heard the album, and it’s soft and meditative and deeply, overwhelmingly pretty.

I’ve Been Trying To Tell You will have a companion-piece film from director Alasdair McLellan, who also took the photos for the album. You can see some of McLennan’s work in the video for first single “Pond House,” and it’s full of artfully composed images of gorgeous, idealized young people. “Pond House” itself is a work of woozy, glacial beauty that doesn’t fit neatly into any particular genre. It’s got a deep dub bassline and a hypnotic sense of space. It samples Natalie Imbruglia’s 2001 track “Beauty On The Fire.” Check out the video and the new album’s tracklist below.

01 “Music Again”
02 “Pond House”
03 “Fonteyn”
04 “Little K”
05 “Blue Kite”
06 “I Remember It Well”
07 “Penlop”
08 “Broad River”

I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is out 9/10 on Heavenly Recordings. The film version will premiere 9/3 at BFI Southbank, as part of a series of screenings and Q&As called The Films Of Saint Etienne.

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