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Saint Etienne share Alasdair Mclellan video for ‘Penlop’, the latest track from their new album I’ve Been Trying To Tell You

Saint Etienne have today shared the video to Penlop, the latest track from their forthcoming 10th studio album, I’ve Been Trying To Tell You – an album about optimism, youth and the late nineties which is released on Heavenly Recordings on Friday 10th September 2021.

The album is accompanied by a sumptuous film by the same name directed by acclaimed photographer Alasdair McLellan. The film premieres 3rd September alongside The Films Of Saint Etienne  – a special weekend of screenings and Q & As at BFI Southbank. The album is Rough Trade Album of the Month in September with remixes by Daniel Avery, Jane Weaver and Vince Clarke. A live tour follows in November with a limited edition box set in the works. Pre-orders and tickets available now.

Talking about Penlop, which features a video of the accompanying portion of Alasdair’s film, Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne said:

Penlop is one of my favourite songs on the album. Sarah’s vocal makes me think of a travel guide, walking you around your half-remembered memories of the late nineties. Pete’s production on this is wonderful, I like the way it bursts wide open at the end, like someone breaking through from the past into the present day.”

Thirty years on from their groundbreaking debut Foxbase Alpha, I’ve Been Trying To Tell You was made largely from samples and sounds drawn from the years 1997-2001, a period that was topped and tailed by Labour’s election victory and the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. Was the optimism of that era a lost golden age, or was it a period of naïvety, delusion and folly? The collective folk memory of any period differs from the lived reality. I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is an album about memory, how it works, how it tricks you and creates a dream-like state. It also taps into the way we think of our youth, a sense of place, and where we come from.

For the first time, Saint Etienne didn’t record together in a studio. The album was completed remotely, in Hove (Pete Wiggs), Oxford (Sarah Cracknell) and Bradford (Bob Stanley), in collaboration with film and TV composer Gus Bousfield, who contributed to two songs on the album.

“To me it’s about optimism, and the late nineties” Bob explains “and how memory is an unreliable narrator. Pete and Gus have done a properly amazing production job. I think it sounds gorgeous.”

Sarah: “It’s the first sample driven album we’ve made since So Tough and it’s been a really refreshing experience, such fun! It’s both dreamy and atmospheric, late summer sounds.”

Pete: “We’ve really pulled apart and dived deep into the samples;  the concept and each of our interpretations of it have made this a very special sounding album, we hope you think so too.”

The album is accompanied by a specially-made film directed by the acclaimed photographer and film-maker Alasdair McLellan who also did all the stills photography for the record. There’s a whole lifetime’s worth of locations in there – Avebury, Portmeirion, Doncaster, Grangemouth as well as London. Evoking the era through the fog of memory, the resulting film is beautiful, hypnotic and all-enveloping.

Alasdair says “My starting point was an interpretation of my memories from the time I first started to listen to Saint Etienne’s music. Of course, it is an interpretation of what I was doing then while looking back at it now. At that time, I was a bored teenager in a village near Doncaster, South Yorkshire; it was a place where very little happened. I now look back at that time as something quite idyllic – even the boredom seems idyllic – and a big part of its soundtrack was Saint Etienne.”

The film I’ve Been Trying To Tell You will premiere at NFT1 on the Southbank on 3rd September. Tickets go on sale to BFI members on Wednesday 4th August and the general public on Thursday 5th August.  Watch the trailer here

The premiere of I’ve Been Trying To Tell You will be accompanied by a whole weekend of The Films Of Saint Etienne at BFI Southbank between the 3rd and 5th of September; seven films and a selection of shorts with most screenings accompanied by Q&As with Saint Etienne and their collaborators.

The Films Of Saint Etienne presented by Sonic Cinema at BFI Southbank

03.09.21- I’ve Been Trying to Tell You (Premiere) + Q & A with Alasdair McLellan & Bob Stanley, NFT1

03.09.21- This Is Tomorrow + intro by Bob Stanley & Paul Kelly, NFT2

04.09.21- Asunder + intro by Esther Johnson & Bob Stanley, NFT2

04.09.21- Finisterre + Q & A with Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs, NFT 1

04.09.21- How We Used to Live + Q & A with Pete Wiggs & Travis Elborough, NFT1

05.09.21- Lawrence of Belgravia + Q & a with Paul Kelly & Lawrence, NFT1

05.09.21- What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? + Q & A with Pete Wiggs & Paul Kelly, NFT1

05.09.21- Saint Etienne: Shorts Programme + intro by Paul Kelly & Pete Wiggs, NFT2

Tickets available at BFI.org.uk


I’ve Been Trying to Tell You
 will also be available to watch online via the BFI’s streaming service BFI Player and in selected UK cinemas from 3rd September, with cinema screenings being accompanied by a specially recorded interview with Bob Stanley and Alastair McLellen, conducted by the BFI’s Stuart Brown. A selection of shorts including FinisterreThis is Tomorrow and What Have You Done Today, Mervyn Day? will also be available to stream on BFI Player from 3rd September. 

The album itself will be available on both black and clear vinyl editions as well as a single disc CD and a limited double disc CD/DVD edition which includes the album, the film and sleeve notes from socialist writer Owen Hatherley. ​​The artwork is by renowned graphic design agency M/M (Paris) (Yohji Yamamoto, Björk, Madonna). A number of formats can be pre-ordered here.

Rough Trade has made I’ve Been Trying To Tell You their Album of the Month for September and will offer an exclusive sky blue vinyl edition with a three track remix CD with mixes by Daniel Avery, Jane Weaver and Vince Clarke here

In the pipeline is a Heavenly edition of the album with free flexidisc (check their bandcamp shop here), in addition to a lovingly put together ‘super deluxe’ limited edition box set with signed prints, film poster, DVD, exclusive 10” vinyl and 12” album – more news to come very soon.