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Saint Etienne 

Travel Edition 1990-2005

Wednesday, Dec 29 2004
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Saint Etienne is a very pretty concept -- and 15 years of a pretty concept makes for a lovely best-of album. Travel Edition is a smorgasbord of the group's vintage-y, glistening vocals, dewy, muted synths, and vanilla dance beats, with lyrics ranging from tranquil, "reading the paper on Sunday morning" thoughtfulness to subtle flirtatiousness. Actually, the whole thing sounds like montage music for a London airport scene in a quasi-indie romantic comedy starring Gwyneth. It's not all passport pass-making and happy endings at baggage claim, though. "Hobart Paving," from 1993's So Tough, for example, is the nadir of the "Gwynney Goes to Hong Kong" aesthetic, a little too placid, a little too "Moon River." But "Lose That Girl" sounds like the gals of Cibo Matto with the wind in their hair, and the new track "Fascination" is ready for a cameo in the next Scarlett Johansson flick. If you've got a hazy afternoon to lose daydreaming about an extended London vacation, this is your soundtrack.

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Rachel Devitt

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