The alternative band Stereolab was one of the first bands to be branded “post-rock.” Comprised of Tim Gane on guitar and keyboard, Lætitia Sadier on vocals, guitar and keyboard and Andy Rasmsay on drums, their influence comes primarily from the 1970’s band Krautrock who combined two different genres, lounge and pop, to create their own experimental music. Stereolab went on to combine vintage electric keyboards and instruments like the Moog synthesizer to create their own beats to go along with lyrics carrying a Marxist message.
Emerging from the underground scene, Stereolab has been on the UK Singles Charts a few times since their start in 1993 with Jenny Ondioline, Miss Modular and the Mars Audiac Quintet. Their record contracts have been between many labels, starting with Warner Bros, then Elektra Records, which folded. Stereolab eventually created their own self-owned label, Duophonic Records, where they later signed to produce with Too Pure. Leaving the 90’s and entering the new millennium, the band announced they would be taking an “indefinite hiatus” on their website. Stereolab manager Martin Pike publically announced, “They felt it was time to take a rest and move on to new projects.” One year after the announcement, Stereolab is releasing their latest album, entitled Not Music.
Not Music is Stereolab’s 12th album created by Gane and Sadier, the two band members who have been involved in the band the longest. Although not released yet, the album is up for review at npr.org. This is the first time I have heard of Stereolab, so I gave their album a worthy listen. The vibraphone, keyboard, piano and synthesizer are all present on the first track, “Everybody’s Weird Except Me,” with Sadier singing along. Stereolab isn’t necessarily a band I would add to my iPod and listen to regularly, but I do feel like it has a place somewhere. The catchy tunes seem like they would fit well into an old Mario Brothers game, or perhaps a Viagra commercial, but other than that, I was annoyed at listening to these songs, all which seem to have very similar tunes.
“Two Finger Symphony” is another new song that seems out of place on the album. Opening with the same beats repeated over and over on the vibraphone, the listener is strung along on a building rhythm that seems to be leading up to a final hoo-rah! The entire time I was waiting for Ramsay to enter with a mini drum solo, or perhaps an impressive high note from Saber, but instead, it ends abruptly with what sounds like someone shaking a piece of aluminum in the background for some edgy creativity.
Overall, I would give Stereolab’s new album, Not Music, two fist pumps out of five. I would recommend the band maybe remove the lyrics entirely and sends a copy to Electronic Arts, and they may have use for it as background music in the next release of The Sims. Also, the hiatus they were talking about earlier may serve some purpose before they go for the 13th album. Check the new album out for free online at npr.org before rushing out and putting a balance on your iTunes card.