Stereolab are just one of those great little bands that tinker away on the fringes of pop, honing their craft, always moving forward. Like say, The Fall, one suspects they will be around for ever. Their LPs will sell roughly the same amount of copies to their core fanbase and a few curious onlookers, and routinely score 4/5 in music press reviews. They never crashed onto the scene like Oasis or Radiohead, and never will. That’s not a bad thing, especially when they can still turn in material of this quality when many of their early 90s contemporaries have long since hung up their Fender Jazzmasters.
This ones a belter. Much better than the preceding EP (the rather lightweight 'Instant O....') had led me to expect. All the usual elements are there, the gorgeous melodies, the retro-futurist synths & beatboxes, the wacky shifts in time signature, the occasional metronomic wig-out.
So what's new? Well I hear a warmer, friendlier feel than their previous two outings which at times had a rather leaden academic approach almost too clever for their own good.
Its a very rhythmic record, perhaps their most danceable to date. It’s an eclectic record too, and you never really quite know what's going to happen next (which for a band accused of having a rather formulaic sound is no mean feat.). There is a definite Disco and electropop influence creeping in….but all in the best possible taste.
Love it. Never in-vogue (except for two weeks in 1996), never hip. They are still one of the best bands we've got.
In fact, curious fans might do worse than start here and work backwards through the catalogue.
The less sure should grab 'ABC Music: The BBC Sessions' first which is as good an overview of the bands career as any.