The past can often be a more romantic, easy going place than we remember. No-one knows this better than St Etienne, who have built a career on wearing rose tinted glasses. The opening of their eighth studio album is no exception, an affectionate spoken word trip down memory lane recapturing a musically misspent youth, reading the NME and collecting records. Musically, however, the darlings of 90s indie dance pop return with a collection of shiny, club friendly tunes mixed with slightly eerie undertones. ‘I’ve Got The Music’ is an up-tempo piece of electro pop gold but comparisons to Madonna’s circa Confessions On The Dancefloor are all too obvious. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it may be hard to swallow for long time fans. ‘Tonight’ is the inevitable single with its undeniably funky, stomping groove and lyrics conveying the anticipation of witnessing your favourite band live, while ‘Last Days Of Disco’ is a sleek and sexy slice of synth based pop. Its cool, understated production leaves you wishing for a bassline that unfortunately never comes.
While a predominantly upbeat record, they do manage to vary the pace on the odd occasion. The moody ballad ’25 Years’ is a welcome departure as ghostly Moogs creep through the melody carrying lyrics about mistakes and regrets. The pretty folk waltz of ‘Threw It All Away’, meanwhile, is a dark, melancholy tale and a wonderful vehicle for Sarah Cracknell’s gentle vocal style. An undoubtedly strong release from a prolific three piece that have spent the last two decades combining the production values of pop with the credibility of indie creativity and with producers like Richard X behind the mixing desk, Words and Music by St Etienne has a perfectly polished, radio friendly sound. Fans of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ and ‘Like A Motorway’ will appreciate it, but some might find it a bit more 21st century Kylie then the pioneering innovative electro pop sound of St Eteinne at their best.