Saint Etienne in the driving seat...

Ah, the humble single.

Even after the Beat boom, punk, Acid House and countless other revolutions the single still stands as the staple currency of pop music. It's cheap, cheerful and - especially in the days of the instant download - manageable.

Each week ClashMusic runs a singles review column, rating and slating the platters which come across our desk. This time round, we thought we'd hand the responsibilities over to Saint Etienne.

Legendary music-philes, the trio's output is marked by an astonishing degree of pop literacy. New album 'Words and Music by Saint Etienne' is out now, so we pieced together a list of the week's singles in celebration.

Here are their thoughts...

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The Black Keys - Dead And Gone
I loved the Black Keys 'Thickfreakness' album back in 2003 but the new record is a real departure in sound for them. It's good to see rock bands like The Black Keys and My Morning Jacket getting more adventurous - taking chances. This has an almost spaghetti western feel - great vocals from Dan Auerbach too!

The Black Keys - Dead And Gone

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Spector - Celestine
The Killers have a lot to answer for! Corporate indie rock with zero originality. This is a real yawnfest and not for me. Sorry chaps! Next!

Words by Sarah Cracknell

Of Monsters And Men - Dirty Paws
This starts out like Icelands answer to Trevor Moss and Hanna Lou but soon heads off into quiet/loud territory. It's folk and rock in equal measures and ultimately leaves me cold, cold cold.

Mac Miller - Loud
Starts with some promising spooky synthery, then some dodgy woops and "ladies and gentlemen this is Narcadelic" sets us on an Ebeneezer Goode style downward spiral.
The brainless chorus "I like my music real loud, real loud, can you turn that shit up for me right now, right now" has a kind of charm though.

Deaf Havana - Little White Lies
"The 10 people who don't like Deaf Havana are deaf" proclaims a YouTube fan of the band. Although I suspect 10 might be an underestimate, I am one of their number (although I prefer
to be referred to as def *arf arf*).

alt J - Breezeblocks
My internal jury is out on this one.. for the defence: very catchy, the use of the word Germolene in the lyrics, adam and the antsesque section. For the prosecution: arch-art school kookery, the spectre of the Fratellis, overly raised eyebrow.

alt-J - Breezeblocks

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Words by Pete Wiggs

Mayer Hawthorne - The Walk
Not the Jimmy McCracklin song of the same title (it's not as good). Or The Cure's (it's better). And I'm really not sure about swearing in the opening couplet - you have to be Amy Winehouse or GG Allin to get away with that, and Mayer is much closer to Curtis Mayfield which doesn't seem right at all. I LOVED his I Wish It Would Rain a while back - this is melodic enough, he's got a good knack for hooks, but this time he doesn't climb that extra rung beyond pastiche.

Paul Weller - When Your Garden's Overgrown
Starlite was possibly my favourite single of 2011, Balearic heat-haze pop, and I hope some of its magic rubbed off on our new album. This has nice squelchy synths, a good line about the "brush strokes of age", and it's chunky all right. Possibly it's a bit more conventional than I was hoping for... I wonder which "Bobby" he's singing about?

When Your Garden's Overgrown

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School Of Seven Bells - The Night
Breathy, slightly posh femme vocals, which are very much up my street. This comes over like a buffed up mix of Lush and Black Tambourine. Snazzy enough, but while I was sitting here waiting for the chorus, the middle eight turned up out of the blue! What's that all about then?

Words by Bob Stanley

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'Words and Music by Saint Etienne' is out now.

Just for good measure, so is Saint Etienne's new single 'I've Got Your Music' - which they didn't review. Sadly.

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