Today I’m taking a look at Saint Etienne’s fourth studio album, Good Humor, which was released in 1998. Known for their blend of indie pop, dance, and electronic music, the band had already released three successful albums prior to Good Humor, including Foxbase Alpha (1991), So Tough (1993), and Tiger Bay (1994). However, Good Humor showed a marked change in their sound, moving away from the dancefloor-oriented music of their earlier work and embracing a more sophisticated and subdued sound.
Good Humor featured a range of musical styles, including bossa nova, lounge music, and jazz. All while maintaining some of the sounds that Saint Etienne mastered early on in pop and electronic.
The album was recorded in Sweden with producer Tore Johansson, who had previously worked with The Cardigans, and featured contributions from musicians such as guitarist Jan Strömstedt, drummer Per Lindvall, and keyboardist Magnus Sveningsson.
Before we jump further into it all, here’s my YouTube coverage of the album.
Critical Acclaim for Good Humor
In a review for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Good Humor as “a lush, seductive album that signifies Saint Etienne’s full metamorphosis into a mature, professional band.” He went on to note that it was “their most consistently satisfying album to date, and one of their best.”
The album received similar praise from other critics, with Melody Maker calling it “an exquisitely crafted album that confirms Saint Etienne’s status as one of the UK’s most consistently inspired and inspiring bands.” Writing for Pitchfork, Brent DiCrescenzo described the album as “a mod-pop masterpiece” and noted that it “perfectly encapsulated a mid-career evolution that almost all great bands experience.”
As critic Steve Huey wrote in his review for AllMusic, “it’s clear that Saint Etienne have hit their stride creatively, and it’s a pleasure to hear them exploring new territory while retaining their essential character.”
The Music on Good Humor
Despite the change in sound, Good Humor still featured Saint Etienne’s trademark wit and charm, with Cracknell’s vocals imbuing the songs with a playful, nostalgic feel. Of note on the album are” Sylvie,” a breezy bossa nova number, and “Lose That Girl,” a catchy pop song with a pleasantly memorable chorus.
Though the band has released just 6 studio albums since, they have been anything but dormant with countless singles, remixes, EPs, and fan club exclusives.
Good Humor: 25th Anniversary Vinyl
When it comes to Good Humor, there are essentially five variants on vinyl. The first two include the original pressing from 1998 with one version including a limited two song remix 10-inch. These were on Creation Records, whereas the following are on Heavenly. The second was pressed in 2017.
In February of 2023, just 2 months ago, Heavenly Records released a 25th Anniversary pressing, which I have right here. This came with two variants, my copy here and one with a bonus promo CD.
Let’s take a look at the 2023 pressing! You can see me unbox the record on my YouTube Channel.