Sound of Water

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Sound of Water
Studio album by Saint Etienne
Released 22 June 2000
Recorded 1 January 2000
Genre Dream pop, indie pop, indietronica, ambient, trip hop
Length 42:45

Sub Pop

Producer Saint Etienne, Gerard Johnson
Saint Etienne chronology
Built on Sand
(1999)Built on Sand1999
Sound of Water
Singles from Sound of Water
  1. "How We Used To Live"
    Released: 2000
  2. "Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)"
    Released: 2000
  3. "Boy Is Crying"
    Released: 2001
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 80/100[1]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly A-[3]
NME 7.10[4]
Pitchfork Media 7.7/10[5]
(7.0/10 deluxe)[6]
Spin 8/10[7]
The Village Voice

Sound of Water (2000) is an album by Saint Etienne. At the time of release, this album split the band's fanbase between those who preferred the more commercial song-based sound of Good Humor and singles like "You're in a Bad Way" and "He's on the Phone" from those who appreciated the band's new direction, which was more experimental in nature.[citation needed] Sound of Water was developed as Saint Etienne's ambient and trip hop statement.

The album's lead single was the sprawling, multi-movement "How We Used to Live," which was not edited down from its 9-minute running length for single release.

Their previous US release Places to Visit was clearly the beginning of this new direction. Many of the artists with whom they collaborated on that EP are present on Sound of Water.

During the group's tenure with Sub Pop (1998–2005), Saint Etienne released many albums. Places to Visit preceded Sound of Water. In turn, the label released Interlude a year afterwards. Interlude is an album of mostly b-sides from the Sound of Water singles, as well as a couple from the Good Humor era.

The album is one of the few releases on which the band did not collaborate with Ian Catt in some way. The album was co-produced by Gerard Johnson and had arrangements by To Rococo Rot and Sean O'Hagan. It was recorded at To Rococo Rot's studio, Amber Sound, in Berlin, Germany. The band have described the recording sessions as 'working in an airless, windowless oven'. The album and singles artwork were all designed by Julian Opie an artist famed for his portraits of the band Blur.

"The Place at Dawn" contains a sample of Magna Carta's "Medley", from the 1970 album Seasons.


Sound Of Water was remastered and reissued as part of Heavenly Recordings/Universal's deluxe editions of the band's recordings on 31 August 2009 (2009-08-31). The same deluxe edition was released in the United States on 30 June 2017 by PIAS Recordings. The new release features b-sides, unreleased tracks and the entire Places to Visit EP, which was previously only released in the United States and Germany.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Cracknell, Stanley and Wiggs; Except where indicated.

CD: Mantra / MNTCD1018 (2000)
No. Title Length
1. "Late Morning" 4:13
2. "Heart Failed (in the Back of a Taxi)" 3:41
3. "Sycamore" 3:46
4. "Don't Back Down" 4:49
5. "Just a Little Overcome" 3:41
6. "Boy is Crying" 3:52
7. "Aspects of Lambert" 3:30
8. "Downey, CA" 4:24
9. "How We Used to Live" 9:02
10. "The Place at Dawn" 1:47


Saint Etienne is:

Augmented by:


from "How We Used to Live"
  • "Roseneck"
  • "Red Setter" (An alternative version of the 12" exists with a 4:25 instrumental version of "Red Setter").[8]
  • "How We Used to Live" (Although it is not described as such, the 8:56 version on this single appears to have been remixed slightly)
  • "How We Used to Live (Dot Allison Mix)"
  • "How We Used to Live (Aim Mix)"
from "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi)"
  • "Thank You"
  • "Bar Conscience"
  • "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi) (Two Lone Swordsmen Mix)"
  • "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi) (Futureshock Vocal Mix)"
  • "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi) (Bridge & Tunnel Mix)"
from "Boy is Crying"
  • "Boy is Crying (Single Mix)" (Remixed by Lee Mullin and Mike Truman)
  • "Northwestern"
  • "Shoot Out the Lights"
  • "Boy Is Crying (Hybrid Mix)"
  • "Northwestern (SI-Cut, DB Mix)"
  • "How We Used to Live (Paul van Dyk Mix)"


  1. ^ "Sound of Water Reviews". Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Hermes, Will. "Saint Etienne: Sound of Water (SubPop)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Sound of Water". NME. September 12, 2005. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  7. ^ Spin. September 2000. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. ^ Forum Discussion