Stereolab Margerine Eclipse

[Elektra; 2004]

Styles: post-rock, indie rock, drone pop
Others: Komeda, The High Llamas, Broadcast, Electrelane

Seems to me there are two types of people: those who enjoy Stereolab, and those who don’t. Those who do enjoy Stereolab hear something fresh and new with each album the band releases. Those who do not enjoy Stereolab listen to the album and hear the same blips, bops, beeps, and dots.

Margerine Eclipse is the band’s eighth LP, and it certainly builds on the previous seven. It builds, however, to the point of boredom. Not that the album is horribly bad (it does rank as one of the better ones), but it doesn’t give the listener anything new to mull. If you enjoyed 1999’s Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night, you’ll enjoy this album, as it covers most of the same ground. While some will say Margerine Eclipse is as relevant as Emperor Tomato Ketchup, it is not. With Emperor Tomato Ketchup, the band moved away from dirty pop songs into its own style of free-jazz-like melodies and trance-inducing beats. Margerine Eclipse has all those elements, too, but nothing more. Emperor Tomato Ketchup broke new ground, but Margerine Eclipse doesn't break anything.

One of the album’s strongest songs is "...Sudden Stars," which was released last October on the Instant O in the Universe EP. The track is completely Stereolab, with its galloping beat and ‘70s-like synth track. But later on in the album is the song "Hillbilly Motobike," a song sounding like it couldn’t make the cut for an earlier LP. It is hard to call these songs bad; they are actually quite good in their own right. But again, there is nothing new for the listener. A band does not have to reinvent itself on each album in order to remain interesting, but a meander in another direction does make for more exciting listens. Unfortunately, Stereolab seems content to stay on the 440-cycle and refuses to deviate to other tonal colors.

1. Vonal Declosion
2. Need To Be
3. ...Sudden Stars
4. Cosmic Country Noir
5. La Demeure
6. Margerine Rock
7. The Man with 100 Cells
8. Margerine Melodie
9. Hillbilly Motobike
10. Feel and Triple
11. Bop Scotch
12. Dear Marge