Stereolab - Chemical Chords | RECORD STORE DAY

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Chemical Chords
Artist: Stereolab
Format: CD


Label: 4AD / ADA
Catalog: 72815
Rel. Date: 08/19/2008
UPC: 652637281521

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Chemical Chords is the ninth LP from multinational indie-pop stalwarts Stereolab. After a long and varied career that has seen myriad sound evolutions, the band has uncluttered their sound somewhat with this release, with shorter songs and a more direct approach in the studio.


Stereolab are as experimental as ever on this, their eleventh album and first for 4AD. This time around, the sometimes obtuse group has decided to craft short pop songs, built around several series of drum loops and improvised puddles of vibraphones and keyboard. Most bands working from a base of improvisation would be content to sprawl and stretch; it's a testament to Stereolab's professionalism that they go from messy blueprints to a tight end product full of vibrant, sophisticated melodies.

Darkness haunts some of the details, like the trip-hop of "One Finger Symphony" and "Nous Vous Demandons Pardon," which recalls COBRA AND PHASES. For the most part however, CHEMICAL CHORDS is a sunny affair. "Neon Beanbag" opens the album with a bouncy beat and a harpsichord, which resurfaces throughout, notably on "Vortical Phonotheque." Sean O'Hagan's brass arrangements give bounce to the effervescent "Silver Sands" and "Three Women," one of the tracks with French-sung lyrics from Laetitia Sadier. The highlight is the title track--it brims with vintage synths and shoegazery atmospherics, and is as excellent or better than anything in their extensive catalog.