- Released: August 18, 2008
- Label: 4Ad / Ada
Spin - p.1114 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he summery results shine with unexpected passion that heats up even Laetitia Sadier's impenetrable bilingual cool."
The Wire - p.55
"CHEMICAL CHORDS is unmistakable Stereolab: audible throughout is the familiar oscillation of bandleader Tim Gane's pop sensibility between a streamlined minimalism on the one hand and a fascination with baroque detailing on the other....There is fresh skip in its step."
Q (Magazine) - p.1123 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he brass flourishes on 'Three Women' and 'The Ecstatic Static,' Laetitia Sadier's hypnotically sing-song vocals and the succinct, sweet 'Valley Hi!' show there's still much to admire."
Blender (Magazine) - p.843 stars out of 5
-- "[E]ndearing hints of '60s pop glow faintly beneath the frictionless surfaces of Gane's loops, chirps and austerely percolating rhythms."
Paste (magazine) (p.72) - "[T]he same core elements that initially characterized Stereolab -- an unrequited love of Krautrock, lunge, cheesy '60s pop and 'space age bachelor pad music,' combined with lyrics embracing Marxist politics and Situationist themes -- are still very much present in its output."
URB (Magazine) (p.88) - "Maintaining a pop-baroque signature...Gane's Burt Bacharach on mescaline ear for composition and Sadier's subdued French-wrapped vocals remain in a class by themselves."
- 1.Neon Beanbag
- 2.Three Women
- 3.One Finger Symphony
- 4.Chemical Chords
- 5.The Ecstatic Static
- 6.Valley Hi!
- 7.Silver Sands
- 8.Pop Molecule
- 9.Self Portrait with Electric Brain
- 10.Nous Vous Demandons Pardons
- 11.Cellulose Sunshine
- 12.Fractal Dream of a Thing
- 13.Daisy Click Clack
- 14.Vortical Phonotheque
Stereolab: Laetitia Sadier (vocals); Tim Gane (guitar, guitars, bass guitar, drums); Joe Walters (French horn); Joe Watson (keyboards, vibraphone, drums, electronics); Simon Johns (bass guitar); Andy Ramsay (drums, drum machine, electronics).
Personnel: Sean O'Hagan (strings, brass); Marcus Holdaway, Laura Melhuish, Brian G. Wright , Sally Herbert, Brian Wright (strings); Dave Liddell, Dave Liddell, Steve Hamilton (brass).
Audio Mixer: Joe Watson.
Recording information: Instant Zero (2007); Press Play (2007).
Stereolab are as experimental as ever on this, their eleventh album and first for 4AD. This time around, the sometimes obtuse group has decided to craft short pop songs, built around several series of drum loops and improvised puddles of vibraphones and keyboard. Most bands working from a base of improvisation would be content to sprawl and stretch; it's a testament to Stereolab's professionalism that they go from messy blueprints to a tight end product full of vibrant, sophisticated melodies.
Darkness haunts some of the details, like the trip-hop of "One Finger Symphony" and "Nous Vous Demandons Pardon," which recalls COBRA AND PHASES. For the most part however, CHEMICAL CHORDS is a sunny affair. "Neon Beanbag" opens the album with a bouncy beat and a harpsichord, which resurfaces throughout, notably on "Vortical Phonotheque." Sean O'Hagan's brass arrangements give bounce to the effervescent "Silver Sands" and "Three Women," one of the tracks with French-sung lyrics from Laetitia Sadier. The highlight is the title track--it brims with vintage synths and shoegazery atmospherics, and is as excellent or better than anything in their extensive catalog.