September 26, 2007

Stereolab: "Sound-Dust" (2001)

I love the way Stereolab hides stellar, chilled-out retro grooves inside a cleverly-crafted bubble-pack of mystery and sinister drones, and Sound-Dust delivers their trademark sound as deftly as ever...except the music sounds quite polished and clean, in my opinion. They should have called it Sound-Dusted to be completely accurate. I wouldn't say there is any real improvement here over any previous Stereolab releases, because the Groop is very good at staying dynamic and true to the formula simultaneously, and haven't yet run out of good ideas, but I guess the selling point for me was the deftness I described initially...what I mean is, this album is quite a bitch. It's moody, it's indifferent, it's atypical, and at times, it's completely offsetting...yet it's also absolutely necessary, something most bands attempt yet seemingly always fall far short of. Even the lyrics are a bit racier, a bit edgier ("Nothing To Do With Me"'s little treasure toward the end; "Did you prescribe my daughter a pound of heroine? I'm sorry, I can't see a thing, I've blinded myself.") Each of these dusted tunes shine through on their own, rendering most common household polishing products unnecessary; the Groop's dreamy, progressive pop cuts through even the toughest caked-on dust and dirt. The album starts out reminiscent of some spacey who-dunnit flick, featuring, perhaps, some neo-Peter Sellers-esque private I, and slowly dissolves, quite literally, into a relaxed, light-hearted romp through a Willy Wonka wonderland of moog and marimba-drenched melodies, leaving the listener completely carefree - especially once the horn sections and the "doo-doo-dooo's" spring to life. Try frowning through that, Oscar. Other treats, namely "Captain Easychord", "The Black Arts", and "Hallucinex", keep the album from drowning in utter misery and heartache. The short and sweet of it; this album will dust off the cobwebs around the corners of your heart - something most music in this new millenium cannot acclaim to. Give it a whirl.
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