4AD / Duophonic
Released 19th August 2008
Stereolab are a band I’ve long admired from a distance. The snippets of songs I’ve heard have been intriguing, but never enough to stir a purchase. When Three Women surfaced on the net several months back something changed, and Chemical Chords became an essential purchase. Fast forward to having the beautiful double-LP on the deck, and the record suitably impresses.
The album sounds exactly how I expected a Stereolab album to sound; insistent, wistful and melodic. The bolshy Three Women remains a favourite, joined by the noir swirls of The Ecstatic Static. Pop immediacy flows through the album, interrupted briefly by the distortion of Pop Molecule with its driving rhythm and twisted beats. Frequently the pop feel flirts with retro novelty, absurdly squelchy analogue synth stabs burst into life on tracks like the breezy opener Neon Beanbag.
This retrospection only adds to the charm of this album. This set of tunes not only has that immediacy to pull the listener in, they have the sheen of songs that live in the memory and bear out further plays. Chemical Chords is no revelation though, merely the confirmation that Stereolab are, on this form at least, a fine groop!