Monade

Socialisme ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings

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Monade's full-length debut, Socialisme ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings, collects Laetitia Sadier's recordings both with and without Pram's Rosie Cuckston. Despite the fact that these songs were created over a period of six years and in between Sadier's Stereolab duties, they hang together remarkably well; as "The Bedroom Recordings" suggests, this album offers warmth and intimacy; much more, in fact, than Stereolab's later efforts, which often felt detached and overly polished. Though Socialisme ou Barbarie is by no means a lo-fi effort, its more modest sonics offer many small pleasures, such as "Cache Cache" (which also appeared as a Stereolab B-side), with its loping bassline, serpentine melody, and aloof vocals; the moody, guitar- and cello-driven "Witch Hazel"; "Vent Du Sud," which manages to be funky and bittersweet at the same time; and "Graine De Beaute," a pretty ballad that sounds like an even mellower version of the quieter songs on Stereolab's earlier albums. Indeed, most of Socialisme ou Barbarie is pretty and mellow; while this gives the album cohesion, it also means that some of the weaker, more repetitive tracks like "Enfin Seule" and "Sunrise Telling" tend to fade into the background. By its second half, the album's side-project roots reveal themselves in pleasant but uninspired musical wallpaper such as "Ode to a Keyring"; but before it stalls, Socialisme ou Barbarie does offer some unique moments, such as "Un Express," which ties together blues and Krautrock with Sadier's undeniable je ne sais quois. It's not as much of a revelation as her bandmate Simon Johns' side project Imitation Electric Piano, and their debut album Trinity Neon, or her best work with Stereolab, but Socialisme ou Barbarie's understated charm makes it worth a listen for Sadier's dedicated fans.

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