Saint Etienne

Good Humor/Fairfax High

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Sub Pop released Saint Etienne's 1998 album Good Humor in a limited version that included a bonus disc of extras. Entitled Fairfax High, the 40-minute disc of B-sides and assorted extras enabled the trio to ransack their sock drawer yet again. Most of these stray tracks come from the Sylvie and Bad Photographer singles. Like their other collections of studio fallout, this disc offers a few hidden gems and a clutch of decent-but-not-so-hot moments. Opening with the instrumental Mike Post homage, "Hill Street Connection" (originally named "Andrew McCarthy" after the Less Than Zero star) and ending with the easy listening instrumental "Cat Nap," it feels like more of a decent album than a hodgepodge, if slightly uneven. The raw and snappy "Hit the Brakes" is spectacular, quite possibly displaying what Diana Ross and the Supremes would have sounded like if they had recorded for Stax instead of Motown. "Zipcode" is an oddity that ends up working well as something that could have stood favorably on Good Humor. It contains a chorus that makes a fair amount of sense, but the verses seem like random phrases that fit only through enunciation. The chorus criticizes a friend or lover, but one of the verses speaks of a non-stereo watch/radio that packs a hearty yield. Another verse of the song: "I never cried when Elvis died/Told you I did, but hey, I lied." Other notables include soundtrack fodder like "My Name Is Vlaovic" and the light acoustic folk of "Madeleine." Good Humor isn't an absolute must-have in this version, but it's definitely preferable to the single-disc version and is well worth seeking out.

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