Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1996-04-09

You want retro? Get a load of their equipment, from the vintage Farfisa and Vox organs to the ever-lovable Moog synthesizers. You want futurist? It's the sound of not-so-well-oiled machinery, churning and sputtering into space age bachelor pad heaven and postindustrial hell. You want pure pop? Dig how they mine mod sounds of the 1960s, from Burt Bacharach to Françoise Hardy, and pull melodies straight out of a bubblegum wrapper. You want avant garde? Check the blatant liftings from '70s krautrockers Neu! and Can, plus their appropriations of Philip Glass's disjointed wordplay and Ornette Coleman's jagged alto sax.

You want meaning? These are songs loaded with optimism, progressivism, humanism, and dashes of Marxism. You want nonsense? There's plenty of "la-la-la's" to lead us into oblivion, and head vocalist Laetitia Sadier sings half the time in French.

You want a groove band? Tracks like "Metronomic Underground" and "Les Yper-Sound" cast a funk trance heavier than voodoo and at least as danceable as any neo-hippie tripe. You want a band that rocks? Try "The Noise of Carpet" for its rug-burning guitar and acceleration drum whacks. Yesterday, tomorrow, now: Stereolab's the one. --Roni Sarig

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