Album: Tiger Bay, 1994
Justification: It was been posited that “Like a Motorway”s pulsing beat is a deliberate homage to Kraftwerk – you know, because a motorway is like an autobahn, geddit? – which would make sense if ‘Autobahn’ actually had a similar tempo or arrangement or anything at all vaguely similar to Saint Etienne outside of the fact that both are electronic groups. But since the songs are completely different, and since Saint Etienne had made three albums by this stage, it’s hard to see it as some sort of “hey, we like synths!” statement as this point in the game.
The similarly that the songs share is that both harken back to classic pop tropes. Kraftwerk’s song was an attempt to update American road songs like ‘Route 66’, while ‘Like a Motorway”s economical tale of love torn asunder by automotive death follows in the tradition of ‘Leader of the Pack’ and ‘Last Kiss’. It also kinda flopped on release, not even breaking the top 40 (‘Pale Movie’ and ‘Hug My Soul’ fared rather better).
Also, Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley is one of my favourite music journalists and one of the main reasons I read Mojo.
THIS TIME IN 2010: Nuttin’. Weekend. Go through the 1994 archive instead – it’s Britpopular.