Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Saint Etienne: So Tough [Warner Bros., 1993]
Although their roots in the pretechno dance movement render their pop strictly futuristic, classic English not-rock with pretensions to not being pretentious, I stuck around when the first song evoked the female fanworld and the second cut was a niece of Brian Eno's "Sky Saw." Add the foregrounded textures and hidden tunes of two male pop intellectuals languidly manipulating synths and samplers to Sarah Cracknell's subdued lyricism and you have an educational argument for the impressionistic pastiche that's one British pop dream. Cracknell's all-purpose pomo receptivity projects no persona. She's a chameleon, a willing mouthpiece, an aural presence whispering: "Close your eyes/Kiss the future/Junk the morgue." A-