Formed by Tim Gane (ex-McCarthy) and Laetitia Sadier in 1991, Stereolab's sound has evolved into an appealing blend of massed keyboards, including classic early synthesisers, over sturdy rhythms and sweet female vocal pop harmonies on top. Laetitia's French accent and her enigmatic lyrics -- often blending Marxist polemic with everyday observations -- have added a sense of mystery to the Stereolab sound.
Stereolab are also one of the most prolific bands around, writing new songs for any radio session, magazine giveaway or compilation they get involved in. They have also released a string of singles on small labels and their own record label, Duophonic Ultra High Frequency Disks. From the outset, there has been a commitment to release records according to what felt right rather than music business dictates.
This attitude has paid off handsomely since the release of the debut "Duophonic Super 45" single. The Melody Maker has hailed them as one of the most important bands since the Smiths and if that paper hasn't made a release "Single Of The Week" then the NME has. Not only has the UK seen a flurry of activity on the touring and recording front but the band has backed it up by constant touring in the US and Europe. Lollapolooza saw them covering the whole of America while a support slot with Pavement did the same in Europe. And while the critics have mused and abused, Stereolab has attracted one of the most loyal audiences in the independent music world. In the UK, the "French Disko" single (included on this album) broke the band onto the Radio One airwaves and into the Top 40 last year and their profile increased further when Laetitia sang on Blur's hit single "To The End"!
All this has brought Stereolab an entirely new audience who ensure the band will never be trapped in any 'indie' ghetto. Unsurprising, given the band's sound, which has been described as the point where Can, the Velvet Underground and the Mamas and the Papas are filtered through a mixture of Herb Alpert' s arrangements and Francoise Hardy's accent -- you don't come much more commercial than that!
Refried Ectoplasm is the band's sixth album and possibly their best. It's a round-up of extremely rare singles, collected here for the first, last and only time. For fans, it's an opportunity to hear many tracks that were impossible to find down in New Zealand. For neophytes, it's a perfect introduction to a band that will, without doubt, be a major influence for years to come.