“I like the rock music,” says Junior. “I just like the song,” says Junior 2. I like the band. ‘Entertainment”s not much more than the tune from the China Garden music box my older sister had when we were younger, turned up to 13, but it’s the kind of rush Phoenix do well. Like the zoom on ‘1901’ and the flight from “…giiiirlfriieeeend” on, yeah, ‘Girlfriend’. That’s all very Phoenix – lovely moments in search of the one great song that’ll have them cherished forever, not just pigeonholed as the hipster’s Gallic hipsters, and I’m not sure they’ve found it yet.
We’re still guessing nationalities. “I like this one. Is she French?” That’s close enough for me – Keren Ann is indeed French, despite being Dutch/Israeli. She’s lived in France since she was 11, which is the tipping point in anyone’s young existence. I first heard Scritti Politti when I was 11 so it stands to reason. This means I have five years to get Junior out of Kent.
‘My Name Is Trouble’ is smooth, sleek and a velvety warning not to get up to your neck in it with Keren Ann. Which seems a pity because she looks lovely and makes the kind of classic, deceptively drivetime pop that John Grant would make if he was a girl. And indeed does make as a boy. It also understands the importance of solid pop components like verses, bridges, choruses (sort of; the bridge does the heavy lifting) and middle eights, so we all come away feeling pretty satisfied with our lot.
I don’t know if the joke’s on them or us or the sucker MCs, but this makes me laugh anyway. Pharrell, with half an eye on Uffie’s “ghetto ass”, is like Roadrunner at a Haribo party, bouncing off the sonic walls and generally making a hepped-up berk of himself – “Wait a minute, what I say I gotta do again?” Of course this is meant to be a dig at ADD bling merchants, and we can all get behind that, but… but… It’s gone.
Uffie should be a hit around here, but Junior just shrugs and says, “My LeapPad’s running out.” Perhaps her attention’s slightly deficit too. Uffie should be a hit around everywhere, because she has a great care-less voice, a team of cracking French zonk-disco cohorts (Feadz, Mirwais, Mr Oizo etc), a few tunes, the looks and the looks-cool. But she took four years to make an album and along came Ke$ha to do it more obviously.
This was the first self-penned Saint Etienne single, and their manifesto in a nutshell. A breezy mix of Northern Soul, French pop sounds, harmonica, skipping groove, woodwind and lovestruck optimism, it’s impossible to resist. Again, I think it was my age, but this summed up the time for me. A summer when not even the ubiquitous spectre of Bryan Adams could shroud the boundless possibilities before us. No, the fug of alcohol and cigarettes took care of that.
London’s finest are a hardy perennial, in spite of some dicey moments in the mid to late 90s when pursuit of cred threatened to swamp the tunes. Their last three albums are pop gold, fulfilling all of Foxbase Alpha’s promise with a dash of maturity. Pity that hits continue to elude them.
Still, this song’s a big favourite with mum, dad and nipper alike. Junior launched herself right out of the ring, such was her giddy joy. I think I’ve mentioned that Saint Etienne were her first gig, her heavily pregnant mum braving Koko’s swish interiors. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they were her pop yardstick.
[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]