Mixing Kraut-rock and Canterbury Prog, Sixties beat and Gallic pop, alongside other styles like lounge, drone, jazz and soul, Stereolab have been creating their unique blend of luscious balladry and upbeat, arty-indie experiments for the last fifteen years or so. And to my knowledge they’ve never actually made a record which isn’t both incredible easy to listen to and also just a joy to. Unsurprisingly, Fab Four Suture is no different.
The album is actually, like Switched On fourteen years before it, a collection of material released elsewhere brought together to form an album — however, this is more of a planned ‘special release’. Fab Four Suture comprises six 7”s, three of which were released, and sold out near immediately, last September, and the remaining three which were released on March 6th, alongside the album.
This album is everything that the Stereolab fan could want.
Fab Four Suture contains a variety of moods, some more relaxed like “Eye of The Volcano” and some pulsing and plodding along like “Kyberneticka Babicka” (of which Part 1 and Part 2 form fitting bookends to the record). We are offered some deliciously bouncy and uptempo tracks like “Vodiak” and “‘Get a Shot of the Refrigerator’” and all sounding (as not just expected, but as hoped for) beautifully Stereolab. The group’s more reflective sound is heard on “Whisper Pitch”; “Widow Weirdo” offers example of their oddball quality; and “Visionary Road Maps” and “Excursions Into ‘oh,a-oh’” deliver the sometimes more serious and more experimental jamming that the band can journey into.
Chanteuse Laetitia Sadier delivers trademark gorgeous melodies to compliment the beautiful interplaying clean guitar-work, keyboards (yes, there’s a farfisa), energetic bass and quirky electronic noiseries (the latter particularly felt in “I Was a Sunny Rainphase”’s computer game-like interjections) and even some emotive brass on tracks like “Plastic Mile”.
This album is everything that the Stereolab fan could want — it’s like a consolidation of the group’s sound, not straying too far from previously chartered territory but still offering so much — and most importantly, being relentlessly nice to listen to. This is why this band are so appealing, and why many find themselves falling in love with their sound — its inoffensive and exiting, and although not so easy to imagine working quite so well as individual nuggets Fab Four Suture doesn’t really contain any duff tracks, and when collected as an album it comes together perfectly.