According to Quentin Harrison: “Thoroughly elegant, casually cerebral, but always approachable, Saint Etienne’s sound continues to fascinate audiences the world over, bringing London―and Britain, more broadly―to those who cannot come to it. Home Counties, their ninth LP, is, to a degree, business as usual for the group. One of the rare recording acts to go from strength to strength, Home Counties continues the steady excellence of its preceding albums Tales from Turnpike House (2005) and Words and Music by Saint Etienne (2012).
Thematically, Bob, Pete and Sarah have used their discography to examine and extol London and its relationship with the rest of England. But Home Counties finds the trio truly revisiting their suburban roots they originated from, as the songwriting here views the metropolis from the outside in, mostly. The resulting songs “Something New,” “Whyteleafe” and “Heather” capture stifled romance, unrealized promise and madness churning under the seemingly bucolic exterior of their hometowns.
With its size and scope apparent in its 19 tracks―cheekily remarked upon by the band themselves on the front cover’s pseudo-promo sticker adorned with a “Two LP Set” tag―Home Counties should suffer from top heaviness, but its run time is breezy, nothing overstays its welcome.
Saint Etienne’s brand of British pop voyeurism has always had a way of turning the ordinary into something spectacular, reminding us of its common humanity. That skill has become even more meaningful in the wake of the post-Brexit fallout, the divide between London and the rest of Britain now honed to a tragically killing edge. Home Counties is a timely salve of an album, one that has Saint Etienne reaching back (and out) to the British suburban plains to show that the soul of England lives not just in London, but in its surrounding locales too.”
Read Quentin Harrison's new interview with Saint Etienne here.
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