Saint Etienne return with their 10th album and prove they are still utterly essential. Saint Etienne have always understood that pop music is the nearest thing we have to time travel, the closest we can get to breathing the air of a different time. On this album, they take that theory to its logical conclusion. I’ve Been Trying To Tell You uses sounds and samples from 1997 to 2001, evoking the folk memory of the period by using and twisting recordings from the time, re-working them into new songs. “They're all by people you'd have heard on daytime Radio 1 or 2 at the time,” Bob clarifies, “not Boards of Canada or anything.” Opening track “Music Again”, for example, begins with some gorgeously poignant electric harpsichord from a long-forgotten R&B hit.
For the first time, Saint Etienne didn't record together in a studio. The album was completed remotely, in Hove (Pete), Oxford (Sarah) and Bradford (Bob, in collaboration with film and TV composer Gus Bousfield, who contributes to a number of tracks). Communication was handled via Zoom meetings and emails.
I’ve Been Trying To Tell You has an internal unity, its heartbeat always at the low end of mid-tempo/high end of downtempo, landing at the approximate pace of Tricky's Pre-Millennium Tension (an album released on the very cusp of the era in question). This helps sustain the dream-state.