House ambassador delivers much-anticipated third album...
'St Germain'

Ludovic Navarre: ambassador for house music for those that think they're too posh to push it, whose 'Rose Rouge' was (and remains) the niftiest, slickest of jazz-housers around, and who brightened a BBC advertising campaign back when. It's hard to believe this is only St Germain's third album in 20 years.

The signature softly-keyed, Franco-global instrumentation here is so rich you think Navarre dives into his studio like Scrooge McDuck. Easy, dreamy, opulent listening that has lost not its luxury since 1995's 'Boulevard' and 2000's 'Tourist', VIP membership from this point is still well in date and has the air miles to take him to Mali, which is where this album calls home for an exclusive getaway of smoky sunsets.

He may have missed the (Ibiza-bound) boat timing-wise - this is not for a gloomy October - and you could nitpick that with the change in location and the native tongues wrapped around 'Voila' and 'Family Tree', he has only moved on incrementally from his past plushness. Nor is there much outright dancefloor action, seemingly overfilled on '99's 'From Detroit to St Germain' (which hasn't aged a day either).

But you should never look the gift of business class listening in the mouth. Style is a given with a St Germain LP, packing lots into compact playlists, and arguably articulating a greater stab at the art of seduction with his tastes of the exotic displaying customary patience. Licks, riffs and swirls will find a kick drum when they're absolutely ready, with the country sway 'How Dare You', an out-of-towner just about sneaking through the album's customs, eventually reaching pure St Germain impact.

On bygone albums he has displayed his own level of assertiveness; this is strictly a diffuser of pent-up situations, perfectly balanced between the background and forefront of your get together.

8/10

Words: Matt Oliver

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