Saint Etienne I've Been Trying To Tell You

29th September 2021

Format Info

LP - clear vinyl

Monorail Exclusive. Limited Clear Vinyl / Black Vinyl formats come with Uncle Vibes Flexi Disc while stocks last

Nothing feels more perfect for late summer, early autumn 2021 than this. Saint Etienne return with a brilliant chance-taking new album, I’ve Been Trying To Tell You. It’s like when one of your friends does something amazing and unexpected and makes you remember the first time you noticed them.

Thirty years on from their groundbreaking debut Foxbase Alpha, Saint Etienne have recaptured something magical from their own past by exploring other possible pasts with an album that is anchored loosely by ideas of optimism, youth and the late nineties.

The album was made largely from samples and sounds drawn from the years 1997-2001, a period that was topped and tailed by Labour’s election victory and the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. Was the optimism of that era a lost golden age, or was it a period of naïvety, delusion and folly? The collective folk memory of any period differs from the lived reality. I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is an album about memory, how it works, how it tricks you and creates a dream-like state. It also taps into the way we think of our youth, a sense of place, and where we come from.

For the first time, Saint Etienne didn’t record together in a studio. The album was completed remotely, in Hove (Pete Wiggs), Oxford (Sarah Cracknell) and Bradford (Bob Stanley), in collaboration with film and TV composer Gus Bousfield, who contributed to two songs on the album.

Bob: “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.”

Sarah: “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.”

Pete: “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.”

The album is accompanied by a specially-made film directed by the acclaimed photographer and film-maker, Alasdair McLellan who also did all the stills photography for the record. There’s a whole lifetime’s worth of locations in there – Avebury, Portmeirion, Doncaster, Grangemouth as well as London. Evoking the era through the fog of memory, the resulting film is beautiful, hypnotic and all-enveloping.

Alasdair says “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.”

With I’ve Been Trying To Tell You Saint Etienne have taken an unexpected detour from their own graceful trajectory. It almost feels out of sequence with their own catalogue. They sound like a new group again, uncluttered, super exciting, and everything to play for. One of the freshest records of the year, love it.

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