I have been eagerly anticipating the new Stereolab album for some time, intrigued by Tim Gane's tantalising account of the creative process that led to 'Chemical Chords'- of a batch of his own musical doodles from which the groop developed the final, fleshed out tracks in the studio. So yes, as one would expect from Stereolab, 'Chemical Chords' is a lushly orchestrated album (Sean O'Hagan's arrangements add wonderful texture, especially the strings on 'Cellulose Sinshine' and 'Self Portrait With Electric Brain'), but each track bears the succinct imprint of a singular idea perfectly realised, unlike previous albums where some tracks feel like two or three condensed into one. The synergy between the musical elements makes this another Stereolab album that will continue to reward repeated listens. It's really only just beginning to sink in for me, and so far 'Daisy Click Clack','Self Portrait With Electric Brain' and 'Cellulose Sunshine' have particularly infected my musical consciousness.
The Stereolab formula is evident, but sufficiently tweaked to engage the fans- I can't imagine they will be disappointed. This is a great album, and it's certainly not bereft of candidates to add to your selection of favourite Stereolab songs. It also has an infectiously cheerful quality that might just dispel some mental rainclouds- even the mood of restless yearning doesn't stray too far towards melancholy.
N.B I highly recommend getting the 16 track rather than 14 track version- 'The Nth Degree' and 'Magne-Music' are both awesome, the former with its insistent bass and crackling electronic inflections, the latter with its rhythmic electronic bubble sounds.