Stereolab - Peng! - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Stereolab - Peng!

by Brian Thompson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-11-09
Stereolab - Peng!
Stereolab - Peng!

Long before they were the lauded ethereal, avant-pop heroes who inspired a generation of misunderstood, artsy shoegazers, Tim Gane, Lætitia Sadier, Joe Dilworth, and Martin Kean were simply disillusioned rockers in search of a new sound. With Peng!, Stereolab’s coarse and blemished proper studio debut, they found it. While it doesn’t display all of the signature quirks that would gain the band its cult following, the record is clearly a precursor of the storm that was just over the horizon.

One of Stereolab’s chief draws has always been their innate ability to serve as the harmonious connective tissue between varied chapters in the history of rock music. Even on their first outing, they are bridging the gap between the old and the new. With "The Seeming and the Meaning," the band crafts a modernized tune atop a decidedly classic rock guitar sound and “Surrealchemist” experiments with crunchy, crackling riffs over delicate church chords. But as they move away from the past, the album boasts fairly straightforward indie rock tunes like “Orgiastic” that are adroitly attuned to the current rock climate, not unlike Sonic Youth or Pixies singles or the flowy, dulcet "Peng! 33" that would feel right at home on a Yo La Tengo record. However, Stereolab takes it even one step further, looking to the future, as with the sleepy, electronic dreamscape of “K-stars” or the otherworldly, laser-filled ”You Little Shits.”

Arguably the most infective charm of Peng! is derived from the sheer joy to be found on the album. All of the key players seem to be thrilled to simply be making music together, and the result takes the form of bouncy, upbeat tracks like “Perversion” and the dancehall-ready, extended jam session “Stomach Worm.” At its best, the album truly captures the sound in the room, as if we are in a dingy garage watching four scrappy punks discover their passion for the art form. And it’s this raw, earthy passion that causes the band to dip a toe into the strange with “Super Falling Star” or the cosmic, French-influenced ”Mellotron” or the grungy, sprawling "Enivrez-vous" with its hushed rendition of a Charles Baudelaire poem.

There’s something undeniably endearing about witnessing this fledgling bunch find their footing. Even the missteps – and the scatterbrained nature of the record – only add to the allure. With Peng!, the seeds of artistic exploration were firmly planted, and with each new venture, Stereolab would still continue to carry traces of the spirit found in their debut. In that way, the album functions as both a time capsule and a constitutional creed for a profoundly fascinating career.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles