Stereolab, masters of pulling great tunes out of nowhere with complete effortlessness
The formidable Stereolab return to the fore this week with their follow-up to last year's brilliantly compiled collection of gems Oscillons From The Anti-Sun. Fab Four Suture, an amalgamation of the six limited-edition 7-inches the group have released over the past few months, is what's hitting, and being swiped from, the shelves as we speak.
Everything about it is suitably Stereolab, from the kitsch sleeve design of a garish pale blue background with diagrams of wood-joints over the top to the unique stylings of their unmistakable musical structure; we're on to a winner here ladies and gentlemen. Again...
Starting off with the typically repetitive 'Kyberneticka Babicka pt.1', a looping of a vocal 'ahh', drums bumping along and synths, farfisas, Moogs, all these wonderful instruments in a melange of sound, alike a lot to the second phase of 'Italian Shoes Continuum', then carrying on with 'Interlock', a 70s-esque sexy show-stopper with a prominent bass that bops and bashes its way through the sound. It starts strong.
Still as fresh today as they were in their early cult days and as they were at the peak of their fame. Stereolab's inimitable sound singles them out as one of the UK's most influential and respected bands of the past ten years and beyond. This record, although somewhat of a stopgap before going into the 'Instant 0 studio' again to record a brand new full-length for 2007, is again enthralling and exciting throughout.
From the spaced-out alien synth splatter on 'Eye Of the Volcano' to the swimming musical motifs encircling 'I was A Sunny Rainphase', Fab Four Suture doesn't let up as a feel-good, sporadic yet perfectly arranged, aesthetically deranged yet quintessentially right magnum opus of cutting and pasting with scissors and super-glue.
Laetitia Sadier sounds comfortingly coquettish throughout and her lyrics of hopefulness with a worldly conscience reign over the songs, towering as ever in their profound simplicity. The music of course is delivered in true style, with enough breaks and spontaneous mix-arounds to keep you guessing well into the third or fourth listen, 'Visionary Road Maps' is a good example of this. That song precedes 'Vodiak' a bobbing fun flash of colourful pop that you just can't get enough of.
This can be said of the entire album - it's not their best, but you'll be coming back to it again and again. It's laden with enough hooks and catches to stop anyone dead in their tracks and pay undivided attention. 'Whisper Pitch' is another wonderfully poppy single, showing a big likeness to REM's structural ideas, but sounding only like Stereolab can sound. And 'Excursions Into "oh, a-oh"', with it's stabby organs, it's horny brass section and it's persuasive percussion is a definite highlight of what's on display here...
Yes, Stereolab have done it again, folks. Phenomenal for a band's fourteenth album and the future's still so very bright. This is a band who never learnt how to compromise, how to be swayed by trends or how to cave in to the laws of what's hot and what's not. By endeavouring not to abide by any of these rules they've stood tall and proud, head and shoulders above a crowd of ever-changing fickle flickers in the soapy cosmos of the junk-tune galaxy.