Stereolab – Chemical Chords

Chemical Chords
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!

Tickets for Stereolab’s December UK tour can be found on Gigantic (Brighton only) and the evil Seetickets.

Stereolab – Three Women (mp3)


Fridays FTW #6

I write this as the results of the London Mayoral contest are announced, so this week’s FTW is colour-coded for the main parties!

Coldplay – Politick
Yes, there are other elections taking place in the world. I’m looking at you the USA. Whereas the race for the Whitehouse is undoubtedly more important for the planet, I live in London and to be honest this vote will affect my day to day life much more. There is also the Zimbabwe controvesy; something that I have paid more attention to than the Democrat race over the pond. So here we are: politics!

New Order – Blue Monday
As I write, it seems more and more likely that come Monday, London will be a Conservative-run city. This follows eight years of Ken Livingston, a man who introduced bendy buses, backed the 2012 Olympics and oversaw the introduction of our Oyster card. He’s been in charge a year longer than I’ve even been here. Quite how everything changes in roughly ten minutes time, I’m not sure. If Boris Johnson wins, I hope he backs up some of the things he has promised: less crime, better transport, and creating a healthier London.

Born Ruffians – Red Elephant
For my voting life Labour have been the party in power. Their victory in 1997 was almost revolutionary, a true landslide. Elephantine, even. They even created the post of London Mayor. There is no doubt that Ken Livingstone has done good things for London, and he has a real passion for the city: certainly more than Boris. But there are so many things in this city that could be better: it could be safer, it certainly could be friendlier, it needs to be healthier. It is time for someone else to have a crack.

Stereolab – Fiery Yellow
The Liberal Democrats. Once the powerhouse of British politics, the modern party has sought to transform British politics to a three-way battle. So far, they remain steadfastly third in general, but over yesterday’s council elections they won a greater percentage than Labour. For me they are a party of great names: Vince Cable, Lembit Opik, Menzies Campbell, but little personality.  

Goldfrapp – Crystalline Green
In an ideal world, the Green party could form an effective political power in the UK. Unfortunately, London is far from an ideal world.

That’s enough of politics I guess. Back to the music next post, I promise.

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