0315: “Motoroller Scalatron” by Stereolab

Stereolab’s brand of Moog-powered Kraut rock lounge music(?) establishes a like/dislike demarcation point right off the bat. There’s really no kind of liking this band. Their sound, Laetitia Sadier’s French-accented and very poppy vocals, and their lyrics of a socialist bent force your hand into a quick decision. Stereolab, for all their gifts of making catchy, quirky little pop songs,[1] have never made one that broke through to even a brief mainstream flirtation. True, Stereolab tries to stay fiercely independent but even Sonic Youth had an accidental minor hit with “Bull In the Heather.” “Motoroller Scalatron” starts out like an old Kraftwerk track with its whizzing and oscillating murmurs, setting you up for an 8-bit bleep-bloop oddity. Instead, a full-bodied oddity arrives—a track that, in the wrong hands, would sound like it was pressed in a kitsch factory, but is in fact made by a group that is genuinely inspired by trying to modernize pop lounge music. It doesn’t always work but when it does it is some of the most entertainingly weird music, as you would expect from a group of avant-garde political theorists.

[1] Though they do indulge in longform explorations from time to time.

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