With its full-length debut Peng!, Stereolab continued to develop a unique approach to experimental pop music, building on the seriously playful mix of Krautrock, dream pop, and lounge forged on the band's early singles. The album's first three tracks present the basic kinds of songs that the band would explore in the future: the tense, brooding "Super Falling Star" builds on simple keyboard drones and chilly, choral vocals; "Orgiastic" is a prototypically chugging, droning guitar and keyboard workout; and the sweet, bouncy melody and "ba ba ba" backing vocals of "Peng! 33" define Stereolab's early pop sound. "Perversion" mixes a heavy, dance-inspired beat with strummy, Velvet Underground guitars and Beach Boys harmonies, while "The Seeming and the Meaning" and "Stomach Worm" are two of the band's most dynamic, rock-oriented songs. Dreamy, melancholy songs like "K-Stars" and "You Little Shits" and the fuzzed-out "Mellotron" and "Enivrez-Vous" represent, respectively, the soft and loud aspects of Stereolab's more experimental side, and "Surrealchemist" manages to combine all of the aspects of the group's sound, with overtly Marxist lyrics to boot. While Peng! doesn't feature many of Stereolab's most instantly recognizable compositions, it defines the group's early style and reflects the eclectic directions pursued in later work.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares