Tegner's flute leads off the opening notes of Stereo's first track, the instrumental "Sisters," a good way of demonstrating what helps them stand out from the early '90s U.K. shoegazing crowd. Blind Mr. Jones' fusion of fuzzblast and melancholy Cure-inspired undercurrents continues to serve them in good stead on the quintet's full debut record, and though the album is not a truly great one, it's definitely very good. Not much immediately distinguishes them from their contemporaries per se -- they lack the hushed gravitas of Slowdive or Chapterhouse's increasing embrace of technological means to achieve similar ends. But with what they've got, they know how to kick up a storm more often than not, while Tegner adds a lovely element of pastoralism and sweet performance to temper the din. James Franklin's lead and Richard Moore's rhythm guitars do the rest of the skybound business quite nicely, while Teversham's bass and John White's drums keep the pace going well enough (Teversham in particular betrays his Simon Gallup/Peter Hook playing roots more than once). If Teversham's lyrics aren't much beyond general blissout romance, they at least suit the songs, which often do more with the sentiments than the singing, which is not always as strong here as on the earlier EPs. Nearly everything on Stereo will be manna to shoegazing fanatics, but all-around standouts appear as well. "Regular Disease" has a particularly strong guitar line mixed with a lovely wash of effects, while the appropriately paced "Unforgettable Waltz" and the quietly triumphant feeling of the final, untitled bonus track. One interesting touch is the low-key but still striking cover version halfway through -- "Lonesome Boatman," a neo-Celtic folk classic from 1980 by the Furey Brothers. Tegner's flute perfectly suits its haunting feeling, while White's percussion further adds to the overall atmosphere.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett