Pleasant Chemicals but no Ketchup
Fans of post-rock pioneers Stereolab are in for something quite different with Chemical Chords. Their ninth full-length release adds some jazz swagger to their extensive dream pop catalogue with swing beats, squeaky clean production and thick, rich guitar.Despite the aesthetic changes, the band have by no means left their electronic side behind. “”One Finger Symphony”” and opening track “”Neon Beanbag”” both feature delightful little bleeps and boops reminiscent of the band’s seminal 1996 release Emperor Tomato Ketchup. Unfortunately Stereolab never quite reach the fervent “”jam”” feel of Emperor, a vibe they were clearly never aiming to match in the first place.
ame Stereolab abandon Emperor‘s folksy shoegazing for a more classic, sophisticated sound. “”Chemical Chords”” for example, with its full orchestral background featuring timpani and violin, brings Jens Lekman and early Scott Walker tunes to mind; Emperor‘s “”Tomorrow is Already Here”” and “”The Noise of the Carpet”” reference Pentangle and My Bloody Valentine respectively.
ame In all its diversity Chemical Chords remains somewhat self-unaware, not knowing whether it is a poignant instrumental record or a cutesy girl-pop record. As unfair as it might be to compare a bandâ€šÃ„Ã´s new release to an older one that happens to be one of the best of its respective decade, especially when the releases sound so very different, newcomers to Stereolab should get Emperor Tomato Ketchup before Chemical Chords. That is not to say, however, that Chemical Chords will be unwelcome in weathered fans’ collections.