This past autumn saw the re-release of Saint Etienne chanteuse Sarah Cracknell’s 1997 solo album Lipslide in a 2-disc format. The first CD contains the remastered (and reordered) tracks from the original album, while the second CD adds on various demos and previously unreleased material. Sarah’s solo work is very much in line with Saint Etienne’s dance-pop aesthetic and is as engaging today as upon first listen.
The track listing for the reissue of the original album moves with a smoother flow through the percolating electronics, shimmering synths, club beats, and Sarah’s distinctly British, sweetly airy to mildly wistful vocals. There’s not a bum number here, although the songs that are most memorable are the upbeat, dance-groove delights like the buoyant “Desert Baby” and “Coastal Town”. The ebullient romp of “Taxi” should have been a sure-fire club hit. It brings together a crisp beat, pull of symphonic strings, and piping woodwinds that support Sarah’s breathy, yet cosmopolitan-cool vocals as she sings “Taxi, take me on to the end / We’ve just got tonight for all of these things.”
While the odds ‘n’ ends rarities of the second CD are not essential listening, Sarah’s scope widens beyond the dancefloor to include subdued guitar, strings, and/or piano-based numbers (The bittersweet “Summer Song” with Sarah’s emotive, fluttering vocals is a highlight.), a retro disco tune, a children’s lullaby (with the cutesy intro “Hey, little seashell…”), and a strings-backed collaboration with Shack, a band from Liverpool. Most of the demos sound too unfinished to stick in the mind, with the exception of “Ready or Not” which is lovely in its state of simplicity. A spare backdrop of tinkling piano and plucked guitar strings accompany Sarah’s baby’s breath vocals. It’s fun to listen to her make up some nonsense words because the lyrics weren’t all hashed out at the time of recording the demo.
“Anymore” Official Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaVVet5AXnw
Saint Etienne Official Site: http://www.saintetienne.com/