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Sound of Water

48 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 6, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A decade on from their first single, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," Sound Of Water finds that Saint Etienne still believe in magic. Expect shiny pop with a motorik pulse, a nine-minute single, "How We Used to Live," named after a late '70s schools and colleges series, a concise, thrilling album that balances between the mainstream and more avant-garde concerns.

Saint Etienne's delicate, perfectly crafted blend of '60s pop and of-the-moment electronica has been replicated by so many other acts over the years that the band is threatened with losing its musical brand. The artistic achievement in Sound of Water has been diminished somewhat by competent musicians such as Broadcast and Mono having picked up the gauntlet Saint Etienne first threw down in 1988, and having taken the sounds to new places. Trends are fleeting by definition, and Saint Etienne, in the precarious position of being an inadvertent trendsetter, would have served their audience better with a little reinvention (the Cardigans made this transition magically with 1998's Gran Turismo). Rather, they stick to their overly precious formula, mixing cheap-sounding drum loops, Sarah Cracknell's snazzy-cool vocals, drawn-out melody, and subtle instrumentation (flute, harpsichord, bongos) with butterfly-fluttering techno. As lovely as it all is, by the end of the album, the ear is desperate to hear something more assertive--it's as unsatisfying as eating cotton candy all day when you long for lasagna. In all, the abundance of emotionless na na na's and la la la's result in no no no's. --Beth Massa

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Late Morning
  2. Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)
  3. Sycamore
  4. Don't Back Down
  5. Just A Little Overcome
  6. Boy Is Crying
  7. Aspects Of Lambert
  8. Downey, CA
  9. How We Used To Live
  10. The Place At Dawn

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 6, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: June 6, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • ASIN: B00004TLYV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,018 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Denmark Jensen on June 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the album that fulfills the promise of all that Saint Etienne suggested they could be in previous releases. Their early albums were full of beautiful and interesting electronic textures, against which their best songs from those days achieved a kind of euphoria that only left one wishing they could sustain that feeling for an entire album worth of songs. Then 1998's "Good Humour" proved they could write an album full of the most sublime pop songs, but left out the experimental electronic textures. Now with "Sound Of Water" they achieve perfection of their style with an album full of some of the prettiest songs you've ever heard, set to their most experimental and ultimately pleasing electronic arrangements ever. Its rare to find a band that can stay focused enough to steadily improve over 10 years and five albums. Most bands seem to peak after two or three albums. Thankyou Saint Etienne!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By 52pilot on June 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Possibly the most consistent of all St. E releases, "Sound of Water" is more innovative than "Good Humor" (but not as fun), and recaptures some of the brilliant pastiche of "Foxbase Alpha" and "So Tough." Don't expect the club-friendly tunes of those early albums though, or even a collection of clever pop singles like "Tiger Bay" or "Good Humor." "Sound of Water" is yet another departure for a band that successfully reinvents itself with each full-length.
This time out, with the help of German post-electronica artists To Rococo Rot, St. E adds bleeps, blips, and skittering beats to the most mellow tunes they've ever recorded. Sarah sounds amazing, and the best tracks like "Don't Back Down" use a soft cushion of overdubbed background vocals to support her effortless melodies.
Traces of vintage St. E are still present -- "Boy Is Crying" echoes the '60s feel of "You're In A Bad Way," and the middle of "How We Used To Live" offers a blissed-out trancey vibe similar to "He's On The Phone." But St. E are continuing to innovate, combining the often-overlooked ambient electronics of bands like Boards of Canada and Two Lone Swordsmen with classic Bacharach-style pop to create a fascinating modern sound. And if this album doesn't end all those Cardigans comparisons, people just aren't listening.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sainte Etienne reached a career zenith with "Good Humor" a perfect,wistful pop postcard that capped eight bountiful years of a band searching for cohesiveness.The tour that followed secured them as a "real band" with a stunning live show that cast Sarah Cracknell as That Girl -- a stage persona with equal parts Deborah Harry and Grace Kelly. How to follow all that up? Well we will dismiss the hit or miss EP "Places to Visit" that came after as an impatient record company (Subpop) wanting to cash in on the bands triumphant year. Instead, showing their stunning versatility as artists,the breathtaking "Sound of Water" is the legitimate follow up. And what a follow up it is. Like warm bubbly lavender scented water pulsating from jets in a hot tub, Saint Etienne have managed to produce another immaculate album of seamless pop songs. Those listening for instant hooks need to be patient for this CD to reveal its cool but assured ambiance over time. Don't make the mistake the lazy Amazon reviewer did and judge this quickly. Listen and enjoy the best kept secret in pop music for the past ten years. Some bands that hang around for the long haul truly get better over time and "Sound of Water" proves that!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Thomas on July 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
When we were younger and more foolish, the steamy days and sultry nights of summer played out to a soundtrack of Bananarama. But we've grown up, even if we didn't want to, and now Saint Etienne offer up a compelling, complex, exquisitely-crafted 21st-century journey.
In much the same way that The Aluminum Group's "Pedals" glides effortlessly between classic pop and avant-garde experimentation, "Sound of Water" delivers Sterolabesque sounds (with Sean O'Hagan present, no wonder) to accompany "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi)" and other tracks.
Saint Etienne can let loose, at least a bit: "Boy Is Crying" fuses some funky jazz into the mix in a way that's reminiscent of the mid-1980s British jazz revival.
But although the music may be modern, the songs are classic pop structures, with one big exception: the nine-minute "How We Used to Live," a masterful three-part composition that segues from understated to bouncy and back.
It's unlikely that anything from the disc will show up on your local radio station (unless your local radio is far better than mine), so go ahead: Check out some of the samples, and click that Buy button. "Sound of Water" is near the top of my Best of 2000 list, and it could be the same on yours.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
with their newest, saint etienne continue to push the boundaries of popular music without ever sacrificing a note of perfect pop sensibility. this album marks the etienne's most mature work yet and its tone dramatically opposes that of their tribute to the beach boys and other poptastic 60's groovers, good humor. from "Heart Failed" to "How We Used to Live," a quiet collection of analog synthesized bleeps and resonant tones is the vehicle for expression. sound of water, although somewhat empty at first, delivers a thoughtful collection of exquisitely layered music with lyrics sung by the wonderful, the greatest, miss sarah cracknell. after a decade of themed music and concept albums, the etienne have done it again. listen carefully, the music is pure, the music is beautiful. it is the sound of water.
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