Long-running UK group Saint Etienne have had a great year, all things considered. They released the hypnotic I've Been Trying to Tell You, one of the best and most unusual albums of their 30-year career, and it's also one of the best albums of 2021. They followed that up recently with new holiday EP. Her Winter Coat. You can listen to both below.

Saint Etienne are also celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic 1991 debut, Foxbase Alpha, with a repress on green vinyl that will be out January 21 via Heavenly. You can preorder it in the BV shop.

We've been posting end of year lists from artists, and Saint Etienne were nice enough to send us theirs, with picks and commentary from the core trio of Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell. It includes albums, singles and more. You can check that out below.

SAINT ETIENNE - FAVORITE MUSIC OF 2021

Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure (album)

Bob: If you're going to make a record that's all about self-doubt it's a good idea to make it very funny as well, and to give it a great crunchy pop production. It reminds me of the first Streets album, only with Britney production values and fronted by Lucy Beaumont.

Little Simz - "I Love You, I Hate You" (song)

Pete: When I first heard this it brought tears to my eyes, although to be honest most days something will set me off to varying degrees of waterworks. Here, it was the combination of emotional ‘daddy issue’ lyrics, the heartfelt delivery and sucker punch chord changes of the sampled backdrop. Gets me every time.

Jane Weaver - Flock (album)

Sarah: I’ve been a fan of Jane's since I heard her album The Silver Globe in 2016, beautiful soaring melodies and spacey electronica. She came on tour with us recently and showed me how to steam your clothes to get the creases out, she’s skilled in so many ways!

Low - HEY WHAT (album)

Pete: This was released on the same day as our album I’ve Been Trying To Tell You and it became my most played album of the year. Their melodies and harmonies are always beautiful but the backdrop of noise, psychedelic processing and odd song structures really blew me away on this one.

Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters (album)

Bob: The only good thing about lockdown is it made several of my favourite acts more productive. Two Lana Del Rey albums in a year, what a treat. This and Chemtrails are both wonderful, but this one edges it for me as (for the most part) it's so hushed, it was the perfect early winter album.

Piri and Tommy Villiers - "Soft Spot" (single)

Sarah: The resurgence of drum and bass beats in pop at the moment is brilliant, I’m so pleased because it was one of the most exciting things to happen to music in 90’s. Love the vocal on this it sounds like Shampoo.

The Beach Boys - Surf’s Up (Revisited)

Pete: OK, so this isn’t new and it’s a playlist that Bob made from Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-71 (Super Deluxe) which did come out in 2021. Bob bought me a vinyl copy of Surf’s Up for my 16th birthday (many moons ago) and its always been a fave of mine but in this ‘reimagined’ version he ditched ‘student demonstration time’ and reinstated Dennis’s rejected songs. Sounds amazing.

Cleo Sol - Mother (album)

Sarah: Cleo Sol is part of the SAULT collective and has a stunning voice that sounds both meaningful and effortless at the same time. I was the last member of my family to know about her, my sons played a song called "Young Love," from her previous album Rose In The Dark, to me in the kitchen one day and then my husband said “oh, haven’t you heard Cleo Sol before?” Talk about feeling out of touch!

Dean McPhee - Witch's Ladder (album)

Bob: Beautiful atmospherics and melodies from my favourite guitarist. "The Alchemist" sounds like the theme to something set in the woods in West Yorkshire, maybe a psychedelic Jack Hargreaves documentary.

Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three (album)

Pete: This album is a slow but beautiful burn. I re-met up with Penelope recently (we’d met briefly before when Golden Filter played with us in the States, now they’ve moved to Brighton). She supported us at our recent Hove gig and the songs translated amazingly to a live setting, electrifying.


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