Stereolab takes a maximal approach on its recent album, Sound-Dust, using electronic sounds, guitar, bass, piano, organ, a horn section, glockenspiel, harpsichord, flute, harmonica and other instruments. It sounds like an interesting mix, sure to create a diverse collection, but all of the songs sound oddly similar and Sound-Dust is monotonous and hard to sit through.
It could have been a great CD. The band is full of skilled musicians collaborating with people who have fresh musical approaches. The lead singer, Laetitia Sadier’s melodic, clear voice sounds beautiful in French and English.
Stereolab has set itself apart from other acts by having a unique, intelligent, new sound on successful albums such as Emperor Tomato Ketchup. But Sound-Dust is not its best work. Many of the songs sound spooky and exciting at first, but by the end, they are cheesy and dull.
The typical song format on this release starts off with an attention-grabbing, dark, electronic loop or a riff. After about 10 seconds or so, the vocals start in and somewhere toward the middle or the end of the song, or both, there is an organ or piano jam. Then, some tacky, ’70s-sounding horns chime in. All the while, the vocals drown out any element to the song that might make listening to it somewhat enjoyable.
Although the lead vocals are unlike anything else in music right now, they contribute to the songs resembling each other, with Sadier’s presence constant and overwhelming. On “Nothing To Do With Me,” when Mary Hansen sings a substantial part, it’s a relief to hear a new voice, but it’s short-lived. She only adds background singing on the rest of the songs.
Taken away from the disc, any of these tunes might be a cool song to chill out to, but taken together, nothing stands out. After a while, the CD becomes tedious and it’s really a chore to listen to from beginning to end.
Mike Savage is a Metro Times intern. E-mail comments to [email protected].