Quality reissue of Saint Etienne's 1991 debut. The UK lo-fi pop group blended elements of the acid house and baggy scenes that were going at the time with a penchant for 1960s pop and a heavy hand on the sampler. Foxbase Alpha is a reference to the street name of the drug 5-Methoxy-diisopropyltryptamine in one of its freebase (smokeable) forms. And one can only imagine that the band was hitting the stuff when they recorded the album. From the movie sample interludes to the longer ambient tracks like "Stoned to Say the Least," Saint Etienne seems plenty tripped out. Their most instantly recognizable track is "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," a slowed down piano house cover of the Neil Young original. It seems to capture the time perfectly (keep your eyes out for Andrew Weatherall's remix of this one). But don't get stuck there, as there's plenty to dig into. Check the Youthman riddim jacking "Carnt Sleep" or the Dusty Springfield sampling "Nothing Can Stop Us" for starters. From there you can catch some Balearic house vibes with "Girl VII" and then trip out to "London Belongs To Me." The whole album is plenty enjoyable from front to back. A satisfying listen that seems to get better with age.
- music label: Plain Recordings 2013
reviewed by Hank Ohs 12/2013