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Tales from Turnpike House

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Album Review

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. The concept — a day in the life of fictional characters who live in a house that does indeed exist — allows for a range of material that's as broad as what can be heard on any other Saint Etienne album. The glitzy dance-pop of "Stars Above Us" ("Stars above us, cars below us/Nothing can touch us, baby"), for example, precedes the ruminative "Teenage Winter," containing an all-too-sharp expression of the resisted shift away from adolescent fanaticism ("And in the charity shop...not much left on the doorstep recently/Something to do with eBay, Johnny reckons/He's bidding on it now, for a Subbuteo catalog '81-'82/He'll win it, put it in a drawer and forget he ever bought it"). Though the other dancefloor-ready songs — the sleek, silken "A Good Thing" and the sweetly lacerating "Lightning Strikes Twice" — have major presence, the gentler moments, thriving on easy-to-miss intricacies and enlivening vocal arrangements (the Rivers men are astute Beach Boys disciples), are especially generous with their charms. [The U.S. version, released on Savoy Jazz (this is not a joke), has a substantially different sequence and three tracks not present on the original U.K. issue. The best of the three is the B-side "I'm Falling," a David Essex collaboration that is gorgeously melancholy and not far off from an atmospheric version of Places to Visit's "We're in the City." Unfortunately, it does not contain Essex' vocal contribution, "Relocate." It's understandable that the label would want to add tracks to the album to differentiate it from a version that had been released months prior, but the resequencing and swapping out of tracks is a real head-scratcher.]

Customer Reviews

Here's What You Need To Know About This Album

1. "Lightning Strikes Twice" is one of the best songs Saint Etienne have ever done! 2. The tracklisting has been re-ordered a bit and certain songs substituted for this, the American version of the album 3. "Dream Lover" and "Oh My" were not on the UK version, nor was "I'm Falling" (which was a b-side on the "A Good Thing" UK single) 4. "Relocate" was on the UK album, but only included on iTunes for the American version, not on the actual American CD in stores 5. "You Can Judge A Book By It's Cover" also wasn't on the UK album, and only available here on iTunes (not the CD in American stores) 6. This is their best album in about a decade!!! (not including best-of sets). Hope this helps.

Check this album out

If you've enjoyed them in the past, then you'll love Saint Etienne's new album. It's very mellow and great music to work to or just chill out to

great album

the extra tracks make the american release worth the wait - although I liked that the original release had 'Sun in My Morning' as the opening track, and 'Goodnight' the last... either way, a nice album from a underappreciated band.


Formed: 1988 in Croydon, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Like most bands founded by former music journalists, Saint Etienne were a highly conceptual group. The trio's concept was to fuse the British pop sounds of '60s London with the club/dance rhythms and productions that defined the post-acid house England of the early '90s. Led by songwriters Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, and fronted by vocalist Sarah Cracknell, the group managed to carry out their concept, and, in the process, Saint Etienne helped make indie dance a viable genre within the U.K. Throughout...
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