Without a microphone, plush beats, and cush synths, Sarah Cracknell would be a travel agent. She’d come to work every morning promptly and with good cheer, sit at her desk, pop on her phone headset, and wait to sell vacations to schmoes like us. We’d call and ask about discount tickets on Southwest, the cheapy deals we’d scanned online, and she’d dismiss these bargains with something ethereal—”But, darling, you get what you pay for.” Her voice would breeze over us. We’d forget our grubby plans. She’d coo about the best discos in London, the best pubs in Bristol, the best resorts off the coast of France. She’d glow on about the sunsets off tiny Mediterranean ports and the fresh oysters that could be devoured in Sicily. Tonight, she will sell you postcard dreams. And you will buy these dreams. With a war in Iraq imminent, the economy in the tank, and D.C. feeling its first bitter cold, the best thing we can do is to go see her band, Saint Etienne, and take in her softest sell. Saint Etienne plays with Dot Allison at 10:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (Jason Cherkis)