Chemical Chords - Stereolab

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. 86
    Chemical Chords is yet another kaleidoscope that hits you as ear candy upon first listen, but like most Stereolab records, further inspection reveal a playground for the mind. [Summer 2008, p.97]
  2. They're editing, giving simple ideas more impact by reducing their exposure, preventing a "Saturday Night Live" skit from becoming a "Saturday Night Live" movie.
  3. To that end, the whole album has a lightness of touch that makes it sound warm and comfortable, especially after the sad weight evident on the also-excellent "Margerine Eclipse."
  4. That they’ve somewhat restricted themselves in the way the record was constructed is also, oddly, a very good thing because it’s allowed them to strain and work within a framework and yield excellent results.
  5. Chemical Chords manages to be even more concisely charming than that album, sacrificing little of Stereolab's distinctive sound for its immediacy.
  6. Stereolab learn to stop being boring and love the pop.
  7. Chemical Chords is more compact, true, but they’ve not lost their character through economy.
  8. Though some of the oddball, art-house tendencies have been lost in this new translation of the band’s music, there has never been a better, brighter or more immediately satisfying pop soundtrack to Das Kapital.
  9. this is nothing amazing but after the understandably sombre "Margerine Eclipse" (2004), the studious "Fab Four Suture" (2006), and Laetitia’s cerebral study into duality of the self on "Monstre Cosmic" (2008), it is refreshing to feel the joy.
  10. Chemical Chords is just what the doctor ordered. [Summer 2008, p.84]
  11. On Chemical Chords, there’s nothing in the 14 pleasant-sounding tracks that we haven’t heard them sing about--in breathy, jazz-cat-inflected French--several dozen times before.
  12. While some tunes, like the Columbo-background-music-ready title track, suffer for their weightlessness ('Metronomic Underground,' we miss you), the Motown-meets-Esquivel 'Self Portrait With Electric Brain' and beat-oriented electro of 'Valley Hi!' and 'Pop Molecule' read as exquisitely wrought.
  13. Diehards will probably resent their new predictability and homogeneity, but the group's mature phase is capable of generating one hell of a pop album.
  14. 60
    They return with an eleventh album on which they seem to have distilled every good idea into these 14 short, smart songs. [Sep 2008, p.106]
  15. 60
    With a new album of the less pop material from these same sessions due later this year, let's hope for some new mutations.
  16. 60
    Endearing hints of '60s pop glow faintly beneath the frictionless surfaces of Gane's loops, chirps and austerely percolating rhythms. [Sep 2008, p.84]
  17. 60
    The tunes are taunt and chipper and the instrumentation is full and flirty as promised. But their tunefulness falls into question with these ears.
  18. Their trademark Krautrock rhythms are shelved here in favour of Motown and French ye-ye flourishes that bring a schoolgirl enthusiasm to songs such as 'Neon Beanbag' and 'Daisy Click Clack,' rather than the propulsive power they desperately need. Saying that, things never quite get candy-floss cute.
  19. Chemical Chords is a fine album by Stereolab standards, even if it does nothing to improve upon the band’s by now all-too-familiar sound.
  20. They’ve got the formula down now, so you can’t sweat the technique, but it would make for a more engaging spin if Stereolab could mess with the equation now and again.
  21. Chemical Chords is a cute summer record, one that’s almost as easy to forget as it is to digest.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. DavidF
    Sep 8, 2008
    This is a real treat, and easily their best since EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP - if not their best ever.
  2. KurtC
    Aug 28, 2008
    Being a fan of Stereolab for 12 years now and bearing two tattoos in honor of them, I am very disappointed with 'Chemical Chords'. It's their biggest mis-step in my opinion. As every review has touched on, there is no new ground covered here. The songs sound uninspired and like clones of one another. Two songs even begin the exact same way with the same drum fill. I couldn't believe that I had to struggle to make through my first listen of the album! I didn't enjoy it at all. A major let-down especially coming after their last true album, 'Margerine Eclipse' which was magnificent and probably their career's pinnacle. Full Review »
  3. SeanN
    Aug 20, 2008
    Stereolab is going the distance, and so am I.