Stereolab - Peng!

Album cover

  1. Super Falling Star (3:16)
  2. Orgiastic (4:44)
  3. Peng! 33 (3:03)
  4. K-Stars (4:04)
  5. Perversion (5:01)
  6. You Little Shits (3:25)
  7. Sleming and the Meaning (3:48)
  8. Mellotron (2:47)
  9. Enivrez-Vous (3:51)
  10. Stomach Worm (6:35)
  11. Surrealchemist (7:13)

Too Pure, 1992

An infuriatingly static album. I really wanted to discover hidden layers underneath their subtlety, but it fails to get under the skin as Stereolab are reputed to. I confess to being completely new to them, so I can believe that this debut is the least acclaimed work by the experimental post-rockers. Still it was cunning of the band to only license this one to the bargain online music shop emusic.com.

Their disaffected-sounding female vocal duo brings to mind Emma and Miki from Lush, especially given the 4AD-style ethereal guitar bed they sing over. The nursery-rhyme like fragments of tunes they repeat in deadpan voices (sometimes in French) are endearing. The vocal harmonies of "Super Falling Star" are spicy, and "Surrealchemist" hints at something more edgy, an airy vocal section followed by a final fuzzed drone-out.

But the one-chord distorted guitar strumming underneath seldom builds up any tension, and when it does ("Stomach Worm") it sounds unfocused. The occasional electronic blips and organ drones seem half hearted. The tunes feel like they could have been twisted and layered a lot more to sustain the interest. Fair enough if the repetitiveness was the intention, but it feels like they're giving listeners the finger.

Any recommendations of a better Stereolab album to try instead?

April 19, 2005

4 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson
<chris@fluffhouse.org.uk>