Cadriopo/F24 [split]

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As champions of fledgling bands and indie labels, Stereolab knows few peers: their discography is stuffed with split singles, compilations, and limited-edition pressings -- inherently sought-after and highly collectible by the group's inclusion -- that by extension raise the visibility of the more obscure artists and imprints hitching their wagons to the Lab's star. The problem, however, is that sometimes their contributions to these projects seem more like favors and kindnesses than actual songs. "Cadriopo" is pleasant enough, but a mere trifle by normal Stereolab standards -- a kind of throwback to their earlier work thanks to its vintage analog synths and Tim Gane's fuzzy guitar accents; its circular melody grows more repetitious than hypnotic. Then-unknown Fugu's "F24" is a soufflé-light Franco-pop charmer notable for its soft, lovely vocal harmonies -- none too surprisingly, the song owes a debt to Stereolab that goes beyond simply occupying opposite sides of a seven-inch single. ["Cadriopo" later resurfaced on Stereolab's Aluminum Tunes collection.]