knife under pillow

Good Humour /Continental

I’m not sure about ‘GoodHumour’’s so seventies, which is okay, but, for the first time, reference gives way to tribute and then parody and the whole thing has a disconcerting air of self-conciousness. As Douglas Coupland’s glistening liner notes make clear this is an urban album (as opposed to the rural retreat of the previous ‘Tiger Bay’ and make no mistake, urban to Saint Etienne, thankfully, means something very different than it does to the rest of us) and also, on the surface, a European album, from it’s Swedish recording base to the tales from airport lobbies, but underneath, Saint Etienne, maybe deliberately trying to shed that dreaded cute British „powerhouse u.k“ icon status, seem more focused on both themes and sounds American.

And maybe this is the first problem, the lyrics. Okay, by nature, a lot of their songs lyrically teetered on the sweet edge of nothing, but even at their dreamiest („Avenue“ or „Pale Movie“) Saint Etienne seemed to be holding a knife under the pillow. Now we get „On the radio, she turned the disco down“ and „hanging round by the stadium/ drinking wine like a Bowery Bum“, i.e phonetically catchy, no doubt, but committing the worst offense of all lyrics, being actively lame! The sound is no great shakes either.

Second, as is typical with this band, several of the single B-Sides easily outclass anything on the album (both ‘Hit the Brakes’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Go Home’ are all-out classics, and featured in the most recent tour, hey, good enough to play, good enough for the album) and could easily been added to the somewhat meager album proper, as has been done with the Japanese version of ‘Good Humour’. I think even the hardcore fans (like me) are getting tired of the sheer amount of product which they must buy to keep up (i.e.’He’s On The Phone, six versions and counting!) But wait, some of the hooks are starting to sink in (‘Split Screen’ sounds like the fast go-go part of MacArthur Park, and that’s good !) and even the wall-paper-like text is beginning to crawl out of the grooves.

Continental is an exquisitely packaged Japaneseonly release, consisting of singles (including, yes, ‘He’s On The Phone’), B-Sides, album excerpts, the Gary Numan tribute (a punishing version of ‘Stormtrooper In Drag’) and five songs I’ve never seen anywhere else. And, in that weird logic which pervades the Saint-Etienne universe, it seems more satisfying and cohesive than the official new album. Maybe, like ‘Tiger Bay’, ‘Good Humour’ will grow on me further. Or maybe it just seems that Air, unintentionally I’m sure, have managed to steal some of Saint Etienne’s cool sleek thunder.

Starship 1: Just what is it that makes today's Berlin so different, so appealing?
  1. Editorial #1 Starship
  2. Moontrip Ulrich Heinke
  3. Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier Ariane Müller
  4. Golfen Katja Eydel
  5. ...ein guter Satz aus Zufall, meinetwegen! Michaela Eichwald
  6. Letztens hat mir mein Freund U. Judith Hopf
  7. Joan Semmel, Sylvia Sleigh, Audrey Flack Antje Majewski
  8. Ein schönes und intelligentes Ambiente Stefan Römer
  9. The Terror Starship Florian Zeyfang
  10. Wer ruft das Off von außen ? Ariane Müller
  11. gentrifikation / nullpunkt / broken windows* Nicolas Siepen
  12. „Die Beute“ - Relaunch Sabeth Buchmann
  13. Woher man denn kommt Isabelle Graw
  14. SituationistInnen und andere ... Katrin Pesch
  15. Immer noch Jim Dines Mülleimer Gunter Reski
  16. Futura 2000 Axel John Wieder, Christian Flamm
  17. Der NINA TEMPEL und HUCKS HAUS Elke aus dem Moore
  18. Primärfarben anscheinend verboten Gunter Reski
  19. Todesenthusiasten Petra Langemeyer, Heike Munder
  20. May 98 Kyron Khosla
  21. Was, wenn es Wirklichkeit wird ? Elisabeth Hautmann
  22. Grammatik: Schwierigkeiten bei der Anwendung des besitzanzeigenden Genitivs Frank Frangenberg
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  24. Nutzen & Co Gunter Reski
  25. Domination and the Everyday Ulrike Müller
  26. Gegen Grenzproduktion in der Festung Europa
  27. Radek Oleg Kireev
  28. Polonia Express Tibor Varnagy
  29. Flauberts frühe Fickgeschichten Fabian Reimann
  30. Aus Alzheimer Helena Huneke
  31. Hallo neues Vorbild Gunter Reski
  32. Einige Fragen beim Lesen von Henry James Francesca Drechsler
  33. 100 Jahre Merve Hans-Christian Dany, Peter Gente, Heidi Paris, Ulrich Dörrie
  34. Reise mit Fragezeichen zur Minus 96 ins Ahornblatt nach Berlin Barbara Schüttpelz, Stephan Dillemuth
  35. Ich fühle daß mein Glück Kerstin Kartscher
  36. Jeder Mensch, der ein Bier falten kann, ist ein Künstler Ran Huber
  37. knife under pillow Phil Smith
  38. what's in the pantry today ? Massimo Richter
  39. Stirbt der Mensch als Künstler Dany Müller
  40. Anmerkungen zu Henry Bond Starship
  41. You're next Cathy Skene
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