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Saint Etienne



If you're in the mood for something sensual with a taste of the exotic, something clever and sophisticated that isn't too highbrow, something immaculately produced, something you can dance to, something downright fun, look no further than Saint Etienne, who, during the course of their decade-long career, have consistently fulfilled all of those requirements. Founded in Camden, England in the late '80s by a pair of childhood friends, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, Saint Etienne (the name was borrowed from a French football team) quickly become famous after their dub- and acid house-influenced cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" went big in 1990. Saint Etienne?s success helped set the stage for the explosion of successful British dance-oriented pop bands who would emerge in the years that followed.

After that single, the duo recruited singer Sarah Cracknell, who has provided Saint Etienne's signature dreamy, ethereal vocals ever since. The group's first full-length, Foxbase Alpha, was greeted by critical acclaim and commercial success. The group hasn't stopped since, putting out four more long-players and a boatload of singles. With each release, Saint Etienne has evolved slightly. The sound is always soothing, sensual dance pop, but you'll find a broad range of influences and ideas in the music, depending on which song you?re listening to: '50s girl group melodies, '60s lounge, '70s dub and disco, '80s synth-pop, '90s hip hop and house. The production is pristine, the arrangements are perfect, and the rhythms are always groovy. Saint Etienne will so bedazzle your senses you'll think you're on vacation.

"Downey, CA" comes from Saint Etienne's 2000 release, Sound of Water, which features shimmering arrangements from The High Llamas Sean O'Hagan and To Rococo Rot.