By Daniel Kohn
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With crossover pop at its bleep-bloop-bleepiest, U.K.-based techo-lounge songscapers Stereolab could very well provide the elevator Muzak of the past and the future. Quietly worshipped for more than a decade by purists with John Cage crushes and trend-hounds on the make, Stereolab struck a chord with their spunky but serious reclamation of the 1950s "World of Tomorrow" the-future-is-now sensibility—fitting for a band who nods to this "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music" in an album title.
Stereolab has taken a fairly standard lounge-pop basis and dipped it in the fuzzy waters of droning bass lines and indie rock undercurrents. Cooler than their erstwhile counterparts Pizzicato Five, Stereolab uses Deep Nerd production tactics (the kind not seen in popular indie music since Portishead pressed orchestras recordings onto old, scratched-up vinyl) and wispy French vocals (courtesy of Laetitia Sadier, who founded the group with Tim Gane) on top of the martini mixes. While the band has successfully produced semi-trippy, artful pop that could in one swift motion replace all those social retard tablets disguised as "lounge music" party CDs on sale at better lifestyle emporiums near you, the less Moog-minded may rate Stereolab—and anything they've released since their mid-'90s gems Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Mars Audiac Quintet—anunfavorable"BO-ring!"
Despite the fringe status, Stereolab is very much at home alongside less tech-jammy bands because their experiments don't much come at the expense of the melodies. If the Hidden Cameras were extra-weird (instead of extra-gay) or if Belle & Sebastian were extra-baked (instead of extra-fey), Stereolab would be their bouncing baby. Their newest album even sounds about ready for annexation into the iPod ad ghetto—provided the American public isn't still being instructed to hate all things French.
Stereolab at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Wed., 9 p.m. $15. 21+.