Saint Etienne tells enchanting ‘Tales’

Andrew Hampp

Saint Etienne

Tales from Turnpike House

Released on Savoy Jazz

Stater rating (out of five): ****½

There’s something criminal about Saint Etienne’s lack of recognition or fan following in the United States. The trio has been churning out one infectious album after another for the last 15 years.

The excellent Tales From Turnpike House is not likely to change this, but it deserves to anyway. Originally released last summer in the U.K., the band’s 10th official U.S. release appears here in an expanded form with three exceptional bonus tracks not found on the foreign release.

What was already a winning concept album about the goings-on of various residents in a sunny London apartment building is now a flawless collection of pop gems whose storylines and irresistible melodies flow seamlessly into each other.

Kicking off with the lilting bossa nova of the single “Side Streets” and continuing through dance floor charmers like “A Good Thing,” “Stars Above Us” and the multiple-storylined throwdown “Milk Bottle Symphony,” the band hits a stride it hasn’t seen since 1998’s Motown-inspired masterpiece Good Humor.

Check out Turnpike now while the buzz is still swarming it, then delve into the group’s back catalog for even more romps through the streets of London with the most melodic tour guides you’re likely to find this side of Abbey Road.

Contact campus editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].