Since its inception in 1991, Stereolab has managed to release a handful of seminal albums. Between 1996 and 1997, the band hit its stride with Emperor Tomato Kitchen and Dots and Loops, embracing the post-rock sound while working with members of Tortoise. These two albums have come to characterize the classic Stereolab sound: repetitive breaks that stay fresh with lush instrumentation.
Unfortunately, much has changed over the last ten years (including the death of member Mary Hansen) and this release of three new singles, released on seven-inch vinyl, do not carry on the classic sound. The members’ tight musicianship and experience prevent disastrous results, but what worked on past efforts backfires on them a little here.
This offering reveals a simpler production style for Stereolab, and it works against the band’s favor. The more thinly layered aesthetic makes the repetitiveness of the songs stand out much more than they may have with a little of the old treatment. While “Kyberneticka Babicka Parts 1 & 2” offer eight minutes of the same, droning break, “Plastic Mile” and “Interlock” are enjoyable songs that are closer in sound to the band’s work on Dots and Loops, even though these tunes wouldn’t stand out on that album. These singles aren’t worth the trouble it would take to track them down, but if you happen to stumble across them for the right price, they may come as a pleasant surprise.