Stereolab

Super-Electric

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It's often forgotten that Stereolab entered the world as a rock band -- a uniquely ambitious and original rock band, mind you, but a rock band nevertheless. Droning guitars, skeletal rhythms, and pop hooks -- not vintage synths and pointillist melodies -- were their calling cards, with mood and atmosphere taking a back seat to visceral impact. Few songs better exemplify Stereolab's formative strengths and skills than "Super-Electric," a deliriously infectious excursion into noise-pop that holds up beautifully alongside the band's more mature work. Although the spirit of the Velvet Underground haunts the pop-noir of "High Expectation" and "The Way Will Be Opening," both take surprising twists and turns -- best of all is the closing "Contact," which anticipates the widescreen drama and scope of classic work still to come. (All four songs later resurfaced on the first Switched On collection.)

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