Release Date: Jan 24, 2006
Record label: Savoy Jazz / Sanctuary
Genre(s): Indie, Pop, Electronic
If, as rumour has it, St Etienne's seventh album turns out to be their last, then it's a good job that it's probably their best. Conceptually, it makes a neat bookend to their 15-year career. While the trio's first album, Foxbase Alpha, was giddy with the exhilaration of moving to London (or rather a swinging, sun-dappled paradigm of London), this bittersweet suite set around a fictional block of flats in EC1 comes straight from the heart of middle youth.
No matter the associates or variables involved, a Saint Etienne album is always going to end up sounding just like a Saint Etienne album, even if it's a little different from what came before it. On Tales from Turnpike House, the group gets two productions from Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Sugababes), several vocal arrangements from Tony Rivers (the Castaways, Harmony Grass) and son, some songwriting and vocal contributions from the misunderstood David Essex ("Rock On," "Stardust"), and assorted things from faces old and new. The album comes out as their most organic since 1998's Good Humor; even the tracks driven by programming are warm in comparison to vast chunks of both Sound of Water and Finisterre.