Stereo Total cut records on the line between downtown art party and precocious absurdity. Depending on your ear, the continental duo — Brezel Göring’s representing Germany; Françoise Cactus was raised out in France — make either underdeveloped claptrap kitsch or intellectual, refreshingly clean and simple indie pop. The verdict on Do the Bambi? As usual, it’s a little bit of both. Tidy Casio melodies settle next to skeletal approximations of ’50s rock and cooing French pop; “Orange Mécanique” imagines Wendy Carlos’ title music from A Clockwork Orange as played in a Soviet disco; and “Vive le Week-End” and “Partymädchen Gefoltert” mix multilingual vocals, chiming guitars, random electronics and rattling stick percussion with winking perfection. The Leonard Cohen-ish duet “Mars Rendez-Vous” is a highlight, as is a chilly cover of “Chelsea Girls.” But Do the Bambi is also too long, its best snippets hung up by similar-sounding, but less effective combinations. “I Am Naked,” for example, is too self-consciously cute, while the drifting duet “Das Erste Mal” never finds solid ground. These missteps won’t concern the duo’s devotees, though, and they’ll point any skeptics toward the future new wave bounce of “Tas de Tôle” for a lesson in Stereo Total’s wiggy tickle.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].