Comprised of founding members and childhood friends Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs along with Sarah Cracknell, the London-based indie pop trio Saint Etienne have been associated with the UK’s indie dance pop and indie dance music scenes since the release of their 1991 debut, Foxbase Alpha, an effort which established the act for uniting 90s club culture with 60s pop and other disparate influences and styles. Interestingly enough, as the story goes, childhood friends Stanley and Wiggs were both former music journalists, who originally intended their musical project to employ the use of several different vocalists; in fact, their aforementioned debut featured the duo working with a number of vocalists including Moira Lambert and Donna Savage. However, after working with Sarah Cracknell on “Nothing Can Stop Us,” Stanley and Wiggs decided to make Cracknell the permanent vocalist; in fact, since then Cracknell has written or cowritten may of the duo’s songs throughout their eight previously released albums.
The trio’s ninth full-length album Home Counties was produced by Young Gun Silver Fox’s Shawn Lee and features some accomplished guests including Kero Kero Bonito’s Augustus; Carwyn Ellis, who has worked with Colorama and Edwyn Collins; The Dreaming Spires’ Robin Bennett; Richard X, who has worked with Girls On Top and Black Melody and long-time collaborator Gerard Johnson, who has worked with Denim and Yes — and the album’s latest single “Magpie Eyes” will further cement the trio’s reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop, while subtly expanding upon their sound. In particular, the single manages to subtly mesh psychedelia, 80s synth pop and New Wave and bubblegum pop in a sleek and slickly produced track; but at its core, is a sweet and wistful sincerity, along with a aching recognition that all things are fleeting. including love.
Shot in Stevenage, UK, the Tash Tung-directed video focuses on a group of its local kids, including an uncanny bunch of young dopplegangers of the trio, spending time aimlessly hanging out and goofing off. As the band’s Pete Wiggs explained in press notes, Stevenage was once a fleeting vision of a suburban utopia and by capturing the town’s kids, including the band’s doppleganger, the idea was to capture “the ennui and bonhomie of those years when you have no idea how your life will pan out.” As a result, the video possesses a dual and paradoxical sense of the uncertainty and confusion of one’s youth and the knowledge of time rushing by before you can catch up. The video’s director, Tash Tung adds that he’s been a longtime fan of the trio, and that “it was a great experience to work in a small team, and also with a lot of creative freedom, sing film photography and shooting docu-potraits of kids from the local area in the town centre.’ He goes on to say that one his favorite moments from the shooting was arguably one of the most serendipitous — he cast his friend Eve Mahoney to play the young doppleganger to Sarah Cracknell, when he found out that Mahoney’s uncle, Joe Dilworth was the band’s longtime photographer.