Their latest offering "Where Our Love Grows" seems like a brighter, lighter twin of the beautiful 2001 release "Somewhere Deep In The Night", trading in sparkling stars with sunny seashores. "When The Laughter Is Over" conjures up a late 60s melancholic "lost summer" kind of mood. That's obvious since they delicately build the song around a sample taken from Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends' marvelous "I Can See Only You" from 1968.
from Where Our Love Grows, available on CD (Universal)
Isobel Campbell was, of course, a member of Belle & Sebastian as well as the lead singer in The Gentle Waves, a disguised solo project backed by members of Belle & Sebastian. Her first "real" solo record "Amorino" was finally released in 2003. This wonderful cover version was only released on her 2004 EP "Time Is Just The Same". And while it's already great to see a Morricone cover version these days, this one is really amazing too. It just suits Mrs. Campbells airy, fairy-like voice perfectly. Compared to the Astrud Gilberto from 1971 this version feels even lighter, calmer, more stripped down since it's not orchestrated with strings.
from Time Is Just The Same, available on CD (Snowstorm)
19 Aug 04 ·Issie: The singer has a great first name!!!
Nouvelle Vague is the project of Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, who basically took classic late 70s/early 80s new wave songs and transformed them into light, easy going, predominantly bossa tinged tracks, including heavily accented, whispery Longet-esque vocals. They claim these young vocalists never even heard the original songs. It works brilliantly for sure on "Love will tear us apart" where they manage to interpret the song as a melancholic, chilled stroll down a beach with sparse percussion, acoustic bass and guitar, vibraphone and some samples of waves rushing on the seaside. I'd like to think even Ian Curtis might smile down on this cover version...
This is how indie pop music should sound, at least for me: bittersweet, light'n' fluffy, airy, harmonic and late 60s oriented. Or as the band describes it: The music makes you think of the time when Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach was young, Brigitte Bardot looked good, and Serge Gainsbourg was alive! Their whole second album, Instamatic Lovelife, is very consistent in quality and thus highly recommended.
With Saint Etienne being one of my favourite groups of the last decades (and possibly the best british pop group today) it's really hard to pick a track, it wouldn't be hard to recommend dozens of amazing tracks they did the last 15 years. That said, "Fascination" is the only new song they produced since Finisterre (2002) and it was included on their first compilation released in the US. It doesn't really matter if they embrace a more late 60s style a la Good Humor or a more electronic or dance approach to their music, due to Sarah Cracknells distinctive voice and Stanleys and Wiggs' ear for strong melodies it always sounds essentially Saint Etienne. This one is a heartfelt, bittersweet song, with an almost Hip Hop-ish basic beat, lush synths, floating harp-like electronica and a great piano melody.