The airy arrangements and exotic rhythms throughout La Varieté sound like low-budget approximations of Antonio Carlos Jobim, although "A Life in the Day Of...Pt. 1 & 2" is a stab at African high life, and "Nostalgia" minus the vocals could be one of U2's early instrumental B-sides. In short, the album is nothing like what you would expect from former Young Marble Giants vocalist Alison Statton, excepting the song "Drum Beat for Baby," which mimics the unique sound of her previous band. Interestingly, Young Marble Giants' main man Stuart Moxham has nothing to do with that track, but he and his brother Phil contribute a couple of compositions, one of which is the Gist's "Carnival Headache." La Varieté is an impressive achievement, but is too stylistically diverse to make much sense, and at times the individual tracks seem like genre exercises. It's a bad sign that "Drum Beat for Baby," a deliberate stylistic throwback, is the strongest cut on the album.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams