Stereolab: Not Music

B

Stereolab

Album: Not Music
Label: Drag City

With Laetitia Sadier’s solo album earlier this year—which evokes the cool, if not the configuration, of Stereolab’s spacey jams—and now Not Music, it’s difficult to mourn the post-rock pioneer’s indefinite hiatus. These 13 songs are the result of the same 2007 recording sessions that produced the bluff, poppy “Motown record” Chemical Chords, but even if the strings and brass are largely absent from this half of the tracks, the same charming dedication to brevity and hooks that’s carried the band since Fab Four Suture is still intact. When Tim Gane and company do get a yen to stretch out with a little motorik beat or hi-fi test drone, they simply call in hired hands Emperor Machine or Atlas Sound, respectively. Those logy remixes throw into relief just how vital the rest of the album is—especially for a band whose LPs total in the double digits. Cases in point: “Aelita” and “Leleklato Sugar”’s mid-song mood swings, the train-track smack in the first, and the cartoonish xylophone that crowds out the minor-key vibes in the second. True, nothing here tops the key-signature-stretching “Three Women,” from Chemical Chords, and the record feels padded near the end. For reheated leftovers, however, Not Music is delicious.

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