CD Finisterre [Saint Etienne]  (CD 6284452),
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Finisterre [Saint Etienne] 
3. Language Lab
4. Soft Like Me
6. Stop and Think It Over
7. Shower Scene
8. Way We Live Now, The
9. New Thing
11. More You Know, The
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1033
Saint Etienne: Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley, Peter Wiggs.
Additional personnel: Sarah Churchill, Michael Jayston, Gerard Johnson, Ian Catt, Brian Higgins, Nick Colfer, Tim Powell, Leo Chadburn, Lyanne Compton, Sean Read, Isabel Waidner, Douglas Benford, Ben Edwards, Jez Williams.
Includes liner notes by Mark Perry.
Liner Note Author: Mark Perry.
Recording information: Needham Sound; Xenomania Records.
A return or a retread? Regardless of where you stand with this group as a fan (whether you detest Good Humor and Sound of Water or not), it's a bit of both. Those who've been waiting nearly a decade for the group to return to the messy but masterful patchwork anti-formula formula of the first three albums should be happy with this one. Like So Tough and Foxbase Alpha, the flow of the album is charmingly disjointed and seemingly made up of tangents -- albeit the kind of tangents for which most pop groups would happily exchange their Sarah discographies in order to call just one their own. In that sense, Finisterre is a return, forsaking the unified approaches taken on both Good Humor and Sound of Water. But the album resembles what many longtime fans would call a blatant return -- a return in lieu of new ideas (to borrow). The group's bright and shimmery dance-pop instincts are practically oozing out of one-third of these songs, though none of them quite scale the heights of the group's best material. If another third of the album didn't sound like it could've only been made in the wake of the electro (not electro) revival, it could've been released at any point during the latter half of the '90s. The remainder of the album, along with some of the electro-leaning material, mines melancholy and occasionally dark territories. In fact, there are no sweeping string arrangements, no delicately strummed acoustic guitars, and nary a whistle-worthy melody within the album's last four songs. Still, Saint Etienne remain England's best pop group -- they only look bad when they're compared to themselves, and this album, for all its shortcomings, has a handful of moments capable of making you think that they are the best pop group to have ever existed. ~ Andy Kellman
Rolling Stone (10/02, p.72) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A gem for the highly sensitive..."
Q (10/02, p.114) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Their updated pastiches of 60s and early-70s pop exotica have become even more chilled....distilled to a fine essence..."
Uncut (1/03, p.97) - Ranked #52 in Uncut's "100 Best Albums of the Year"
Uncut (11/02, p.124) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Saint Etienne's most far-reaching album since FOX BASE ALPHA..."
Magnet (1/03, p.104) - "...Sewn together with slower tunes that would put both Sade and Brian Wilson's noses in the rulebook..."
Mojo (Publisher) (10/02, p.110) - "...Cryptic voiceovers, crafted pop, nouveau-retro keyboards, slippery samples and subliminal Anglo cultural debate..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "FINISTERRE was a return to urbane form for Saint Etienne....The clever spoken-word samples they'd used until TIGER BAY were here again, and the stylish dance-pop was, too..."
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Guts Records 1033
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