ALBUM REVIEW: Home Counties by Saint Etienne

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: The Reunion; Something New; Magpie Eyes; Whyteleafe; Dive; Church Pew Furniture Restorer; Take It All In; Popmaster; Underneath The Apple Tree; Out Of My Mind; After Hebden; Breakneck Hill; Heather; Sports Report; Train Drivers In Eyeliner; Unopened Fanmail; What Kind Of World; Sweet Arcadia; Angel Of Woodhatch

Saint Etienne are now out on tour, we’ve had a look at a recent setlist and are disappointed that only five songs from this impressive collection made it to their current live shows.

  • Read on for reasons including why this album evokes early Saint Etienne LPs

It may be that’s a position that’s rectified in the coming weeks as fans realise that Home Counties really does sit alongside some of the best of the band’s work.

When we first saw that this album had 19 tracks we worried that Saint Etienne might be overstretching themselves but, in fact, this, their ninth studio album, knits together perfectly.

Our favourite tracks include the Northern Soul stomp of Underneath The Apple Tree, Dive’s pop salsa (see below) and Pet Shop Boys-ish dreaming of Whyteleafe.

It reminds us a great deal of some of their early albums because not all of these 19 tracks are songs, some are merely interludes evoking the BBC Radio 4 and Final Score of old.

Elsewhere, Sarah Cracknell breathlessly raps through the names of towns in England’s Home Counties in a cross between early Pulp and the shipping forecast from BBC Radio 4 on the 7 minutes and 44 seconds of Sweet Arcadia.

Unifying the songs is a sense of something remembered but almost lost. What won’t be forgotten is the image of Train Drivers In Eyeliner conjured up by the song of the same name and ensuring this is a collection worth timetabling a listen to.

  • Picture by Rob Baker Ashton via Facebook courtesy Saint Etienne. Tickets
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