Saint Etienne make records the way Sixties starlets like Natalie Wood and Ann-Margret made movies: The ingénue goes shopping for true love and the right lip liner, and comes back home with both, just because she's That Girl. Sarah Cracknell is Saint Etienne's That Girl, twirling and posing through the glossy Europop of her confreres Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. Her slinky vocals and their keyboard hooks go together like a twin set and pearls totally classic. They've spent the decade confecting perfect U.K. hits like "Pale Movie," "You're in a Bad Way" and "He's on the Phone," but Good Humor is their most relentless album yet, every bit as smashing as their 1995 singles collection, Too Young to Die. Cardigans producer Tore Johansson helps give the songs more bounce to the ounce, and the results are too pretty for this planet.
Saint Etienne have always had the disco fever, but on Good Humor they go for a warmer, more acoustic sound, with piano, vibes and jazzy saxophone to decorate their bittersweet melodies. Unlike their previous albums, Good Humor has no filler, just eleven cream-puff pop tunes with funny words and frisky beats. Gear-heads-in-waiting Wiggs and Stanley were born to make Cracknell sound fabulous, and they do their duty from the sad lilt of "Goodnight Jack" to the dance groove of "Dutch TV." Even when Sarah sings about boy trouble in "Sylvie," her little sister tries to steal her beau she sounds cooler than ice cream and warmer than the sun. Oh, it's good good good, like Brigitte Bardot. (RS 796)
(Posted: Sep 4, 1998)
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