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Stereolab

'Chemical Chords'

Released on 18 August 2008 on 4AD

Dispensing with the weirder influences, the band embrace a brassy Motown sound on much of this LP and this is perhaps never better exemplified than on `Three Women` - a track which blog-addicts should have picked up earlier this year - and `Silver Sands`, as irritatingly catchy as the band have ever sounded.

The core sound of lift muzak meets abstract French film soundtrack has, however, not been diluted and on tracks like `The Ecstatic Static` and `Valley Hi!` the band produce a fresh, krautrock / frogrock pact that will find long-term fans deliriously dribbling over their reconditioned moogs.

Elsewhere, chunky guitars sit surprisingly easily with strings, harpsichord and xylophones before taking a back seat completely for `Pop Molecule [Molecular Pop 1]` where a heavenly buzzsaw bassline grinds its way, momentarily, through the collective twee which precedes it before leaving by the back door and ushering the winning formula back in for `Self Portrait with "electric brain"`.

The album contains a value-for-money fourteen tracks and never bores - a good thing too as you`ll need to be in for the duration to hear the joyously quirky farmyard charleston sound of `Daisy Click Clack` towards the end.

This is the first Stereolab album in four years and is easily their best since `Emperor Tomato Ketchup` over a decade ago. Whether it can eclipse such a high watermark remains to be seen, but on this evidence I`ll boldly predict that it will.

Posted on 18 August 2008 by Richard Brown

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