“Here it comes again…”
Hey, could you pick up? Saint Etienne are on the phone again.
Over three decades after their debut, and four years after their ninth studio album, 2017’s Home Counties, the British sophisti-pop troupe returned on Tuesday (July 27) with their new single, which involves Natalie Imbruglia (!), news of an album on the way, and even a feature film. (Evidently, they’ve been busy amid the pandemic.)
I’ve Been Trying to Tell You is the (great) name of their tenth album, out on September 10. True to These Uncertain Times, the record was made entirely remotely between the three members, from Hove (Pete Wiggs), to Oxford (Sarah Cracknell) to Bradford (Bob Stanley), along with contributions by film and TV composer Gus Bousfield.
It is described as “about optimism, youth and the late nineties,” and was built largely out of samples and sounds from the years 1997 to 2001.
Appropriately, a legend of that era is a part of the premiere process: the oft-sampling trio spliced Natalie Imbruglia’s “Beauty on the Fire” from 2001’s White Lilies Island into their lead song, “Pond House,” described as “an evocative collision of undulating beats and samples alongside its visuals from the film.” (Speaking of Natalie, she’s kicking off a comeback of her own as of late. Get into it.)
The dreamy tune plays like summers past, broadcasted through a rose-colored filter in the far-off future, conjuring familiar feelings of days at the beach, driving around aimlessly and spacing out by the pool. It’s not necessarily a song as it is a vibe, and could prove to be just the beginning of a comforting, vaguely nostalgic aural escape at a time when we many of us need it most.
“To me it’s about optimism, and the late nineties, and how memory is an unreliable narrator. Pete and Gus have done a properly amazing production job. I think it sounds gorgeous,” Bob says.
“We’ve really pulled apart and dived deep into the samples; the concept and each of our interpretations of it have made this a very special sounding album, we hope you think so too,” Pete continues.
“It’s the first sample driven album we’ve made since So Tough and it’s been a really refreshing experience, such fun! It’s both dreamy and atmospheric, late summer sounds,” Sarah adds.
Along with the music, there’s an I’ve Been Trying to Tell You movie coming, directed by acclaimed photographer Alasdair McLellan, who shot the still photography for the album. It arrives on September 3 during a special weekend of screenings and Q&As at BFI Southbank. (Here’s all the info.)
“My starting point was an interpretation of my memories from the time I first started to listen to Saint Etienne’s music. Of course, it is an interpretation of what I was doing then while looking back at it now. At that time, I was a bored teenager in a village near Doncaster, South Yorkshire; it was a place where very little happened. I now look back at that time as something quite idyllic – even the boredom seems idyllic – and a big part of its soundtrack was Saint Etienne,” he says of the project.
Prepare for (future) nostalgia.
I’ve Been Trying To Tell You track listing:
1. Music Again
2. Pond House
4. Little K
5. Blue Kite
6. I Remember It Well
8. Broad River