CD So Tough  (CD 7021936),
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So Tough 
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2759119
Saint Etienne: Sarah Cracknell (vocals); Bob Stanley (keyboards, synthesizers, handclaps); Pete Wiggs (Moog synthesizer, bass, sampler).
Additional personnel: Q-Tee (vocals); Ian Catt (guitar, programming); Cajun Queen (bass).
Recorded at RMS Studios, London, England in 1992. Includes liner notes by Kevin Pearce.
At the time of this album's release, dance music scenesters assumed that the title of 1993's SO TOUGH was some sort of response to the Pet Shop Boys' recent SO HARD. Actually, the album title is stolen from the 1972 Beach Boys album CARL AND THE PASSIONS--SO TOUGH. Even more so than the group's kaleidoscopic 1991 debut, FOXBASE ALPHA, SO TOUGH marries club rhythms to classic pop forms. The arrangements, while only occasionally resembling Brian Wilson's work, are undoubtedly influenced by his style. This is particularly evident on the lush, hypnotic "Avenue," which wears its PET SOUNDS influence proudly. Elsewhere, the Continental "Mario's Cafe," girl-groupish "You're in a Bad Way," and thumping "Join Our Club" exhibit other sides of Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs' smart, open-minded musical attitude. SO TOUGH is much more than the sum of its influences.
Rolling Stone (8/5/93, p.65) - 3.5 Stars - Very Good - "...visionary pop that ought to be a hit....It's Blondie without trash, each cut a delightful pop homage bestirring life-like memories..."
Spin (3/93, p.71) - Highly Recommended - "...the record is a treat...the group achieves the near impossible and remakes England in its own wistful image....By turns elegiac and affecting, narcotic and uplifting, Saint E. sounds original and alive..."
Q (4/93, p.88) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...a superb and strangely trippy sense of pop hooks....TOUGH is an inspired, evocative and quite beautiful London album..."
Alternative Press (7/93, p.87) - "...Lusher but simultaneously harsher than FOXBASE ALPHA, SO TOUGH is danceable, singable, and in an ungushy kind of way, eminently fall-in-loveable...St. Etienne signpost the brightest future pop's possessed in years..."
Melody Maker (1/1/94, p.77) - Ranked #33 in Melody Maker's list of the `Albums Of The Year' for 1993.
Q (Magazine) (p.123) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Singles 'You're In A Bad Way' and Hobart Paving stand out..."
NME (Magazine) (2/20/93, p.28) - 6 - Good - "...classic St. Etienne...contains moments of true wonderment...compares favourably with their debut..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t provides bona fide belters such as 'You're In A Bad Way,' alongside countless sound collages and swirling, half-heard samples and steals."
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Dance & Electronic
Universal UK 2759119
Source UK (UK)
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