Saturday, March 11, 2006

On Saint Etienne (In Lieu Of Their Rumored Retirement)

There are different forms of music for different locations and viewpoints, and the moods they nurture. For the rebellious there's punk and ska, for the more laid back there's reggae. Rap, blues and R&B work well for those who identify with urban lifestyles, and there's country for those who identify more with farms, towns and the rural lifestyle.

And for Suburbia, there's pop.

Granted, much of that pop area has since been taken over by a country music industry hungry to own the nation's taste in music, but pop is still the proper sound for the miles and miles of lawns, shopping centers and parks that have developed around the city as the answer to the crowded, decrepit (or sanitized) business of too many people jostling in too little space. While many artistes freely depict the suburbs as soulless, lifeless wastelands of culture and humanity (to put it mildly), for more than half the United States they are the promised land to run to and/or live in.

And the music for such a space must be light, bouncy and pretty. Light because one runs here to escape the cares of the world, bouncy to keep you going (even in the depths of dispair) and pretty because good art is in some way agreeable. And (here's something most people never consider) you can pack in a lot of sadness in a space of a few happy minutes; watch It's A Wonderful Life for a good example.

And Saint Etienne? They've been doing pop since the early nineties. Sadly they've been a cult group of sorts, one which one has to know about stuff to find out about; but once you find out about them you fall for them.

I've read in the paper that Turnpike House may be their last release. If so, I wish the group well.

Although I will be much the sadder for it.

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