After nine studio albums, the Anglo-French unit Stereolab has become very comfortable in its sound, sinking into a beanbag chair of Laetitia Sadier's "ba-da-ba's," Farfisa organ drones, wonderfully serpentine bass lines and krautrock/bossa nova/waltz rhythms.

One would think that Margerine Eclipse, the first album released since singer-keyboardist Mary Hansen's death in 2002, ought to reflect Stereolab's sadness over its loss. The new disc, it turns out, is business as usual. But we don't come to the band for bold deviations into new territory. In a world bedeviled with awful change, we turn to its aura of avant-bubblegum exotica, as well as its socialist lyrics (seductively sung while it cashes checks from a major label). Stereolab has been riding the same Esquivel/Tortoise/Mutantes motorcycle since 1997's Dots and Loops. Margerine Eclipse tunes up the bike's engine further. Ultimately, though, the disc's as pretty and inconsequential as a trophy wife.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave Segal
Contact: Dave Segal