Listen to this track by British alternative pop/dance/rock trio Saint Etienne. It’s “Just A Little Overcome” as taken from their 2000 album Sound of Water a record that redefines the group as an album band as opposed to their pop single past. And it aligns their sound comfortably with that of fellow indie-soundscapists the High Llamas, which makes sense since head Llama Sean O’Hagen acted as arranger on many tracks of the album.
Saint Etienne are perhaps best known for their trip-hop pop take on Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, a cover version that turns the folk-country strains of the original on its head by making it into a dance anthem instead. Still, this band held the 60s in esteem even if they were setting trends in the early 90s. The result were a series of singles and albums that were dance floor ready, but still with an emphasis on traditional rock pop songwriting.
By the time the 90s passed, the group had taken on new influences in ambient sounds. And this was one of my favourites from them, a soothing stew that holds melody and atmosphere in balance, and making it one of the best songs Dusty Springfield never got a chance to record. And kind of ironic too that embracing atmospherics and largely forgetting about the implications when it came to a potential hit single, that they made a highly textured pop song, albeit one not aimed at the kids.
For more information about Saint Etienne, check out saintetienne.com.