[image-4]Published August 28, 2008.
Post-modern pop group Stereolab has returned with a fantastical ninth studio album, Chemical Chords. Opening with the sweepingly optimistic "Neon Beanbag," vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Laetitia Sadier explores the narratives of her dreams, layered over loops of bopping rhythmic instrumentation. The horn arrangements on "Silver Sands" and "Self Portrait with 'Electric Brain'" are stunning, as Chemical Chords ventures through various stages of creative experimentation. Akin to a number of the band's previous releases, including Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996), Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (1999) and Sound-Dust (2001), Stereolab explores, with bilingual flair (Sadier's singing flip-flops between French and English), the divide between politics and biology, though art always wins out above all else. Chemical Chords' strongest tracks include "Fractal Dream of a Thing," "One Finger Symphony" and the carnivalesque "Nous Vous Demandons Pardon." Stereolab never fails to deliver an electrifying collection. For the deluxe fan, the Japanese edition is worth the costly import price tag as it includes a '60s-style sleeve and features two extra tracks, "The Nth Degree" and "Magne-Music," that should have made the album's final cut. The quartet of musical mathematicians keeps listeners wanting more.