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Chemical Chords

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Editors’ Notes

London, England’s Stereolab stick to what they know for their eleventh album, 2008’s Chemical Chords. Their French-inspired pop tweaked with what’s now well-known as “space-age bachelor pad” instrumentation makes for their familiar loose and free atmospherics. It sets the stage for Laetitia Sadier’s pop leanings to take firm hold with “Valley Hi!,” “Nous Vous Demandons Pardon,” and “Silver Sands,” while Sean O’Hagan’s brass and string arrangements perk things up throughout. The meandering inquisitions of “Neon Beanbag,” “Pop Molecule (Molecular Pop 1),” and “Vortical Phonotheque” are among the many deliberately obscure compositions that were allegedly boiled down from 32 potential tracks. Stereolab never settle for easy listening. Their rhythms consistently challenge and their melodies frequently hide behind ornate arrangements that threaten to fly away in the breeze. However, this lightness of being juxtaposes well against what initially feels like an intense intellectual study. Despite its high-brow allusions, this isn’t laboratory pop. It is birthed in the studio and heavily manipulated as a rule, but there’s an ease and sweetness that never veers towards abrasion.

Customer Reviews

Ronseal Values Return

It's another Stereolab LP that will delight all fans and bemuse everybody else. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a return to form. The death of Mary put a grieving shroud over Margerine Eclipse. On Chemical Chords, Tim and Laetitia have put aside personal differences and tragic loss to make an album that invites happiness to play. All in all the most consistently "up" album of their career, and their best since "Cobra and Phases Groop …"

Don't believe the anti-hype

"The Independent" gave this album a really bad review. Given the patchy nature of recent Stereolab releases this almost put me off buying Chemical Chords. Having gone ahead anyway, I was rather surprise to find this album a joy to listen to. Lovely.

The lab are back!

Stereolab are at their best when they get you bouncing around the room, at their worst when they induce introspective navelgazing. This is a true bouncy album, and makes me wish I was a nineteen year old bouncing around the Blue Note on Sadlergate. Buy it.


Formed: 1991 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining an inclination for melodic '60s pop with an art rock aesthetic borrowed from Krautrock bands like Faust and Neu!, Stereolab were one of the most influential alternative bands of the '90s. Led by Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab either legitimized forms of music that were on the fringe of rock, or brought attention to strands of pop music -- bossa nova, lounge-pop, movie soundtracks -- that were traditionally banished from the rock lineage. The group's trademark sound -- a droning,...
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