Stereolab Instant 0 in the Universe

Tragedy can affect bands in drastically different ways. After the death of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Mary Hansen last December, Stereolab certainly could have, like most bands in their situation, called it quits and moved on with another project. Despite rumours that began sprouting claiming the group was headed in that very direction, they’ve obviously been busy readying this new five track EP — a teaser for the upcoming full-length, Margerine Eclipse, due in late January. For better or worse, the EP follows in the tradition of their post-Dots and Loops material, though not so much re-treading the albums as much as utilising the increasingly predictable and calculated (though thankfully not yet tired) formula for their unique ambient pop/electro-lounge sound. The EP opens with its strongest material, ". . . Sudden Stars” and "Jaunty Monty and the Bubbles of Silence,” both of which ably capitalise on the tremendous potential of Sound-Dust’s sanguine closing track, "Le Bon Bon Des Raisons.” Unfortunately, the remaining tracks don’t fare nearly as well, letting the irresolute melodies coast through the EP’s clinically habitual form. Though Mary’s contributions (her vocal interplay with Sadier, especially) are noticeably absent, the opening tracks of this EP make it a compelling addition to their catalogue, one that proves that the band hasn’t let tragedy stand in the way of creating heartening music. (Elektra)