It took almost 20 years of making music for Laetitia Sadier to release a true solo album. Though her Stereolab side project Monade began as her own endeavor, it morphed into another band (albeit one fronted by Sadier). While it features two former Monade members, The Trip feels more like a true solo effort, if only because its raison d’être is so personal: Sadier was inspired by her younger sister Noelle’s suicide, and her grieving process, to write these songs. On both Stereolab and Monade's music, Sadier's lovely alto is aloof, and her lyrics largely theoretical; while this is true on The Trip to a certain extent, the atmosphere is much more intimate, and the subject matter is so emotional that a little distance is welcome. The Trip's first step is its most stunning: “One Million Year Trip” begins with a Krautrock-tinged groove that will be familiar to fans, but it’s more open and flowing here than on any of her other projects. Sadier has never sounded so direct: “I lost someone precious,” she sings as analog synths sparkle like starlight around her, “She has a long way to travel, so I will open my heart/And let the pain run along as there is no point in holding on.” It’s a pretty remarkable way of looking at death and loss -- philosophical and somewhat detached, yet also kind, to herself and her sister’s memory. The rest of The Trip charts the journeys she takes through her grief and her sister takes to wherever she’s headed. The Spinanes' Rebecca Gates provides backing vocals that evoke Sadier's little sister, particularly on the surprisingly groovy “Natural Child,” and the organic, largely acoustic arrangements give the album a warmer, more immediately welcoming sound than either Stereolab or Monade. Sadier’s moods range from “Fluid Sand”'s reflections to “Statues Can Bend”'s unadulterated grief to the anger she injects into her restless cover of Wendy & Bonnie's “By the Sea.” She imbues The Trip's other covers with just as much emotion, whether it’s the short and somber reading of “Summertime” or the more lighthearted “Un Soir, un Chien,” originally by Les Rita Mitsouko. Covers aside, this is the most personal music of Sadier’s career, and a promising glimpse of what she can do on her own.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares