Fifteen years on, Stereolab can still be considered one of the most unique bands in Britain. Fab Four Suture is a mesmerising fusion of effortlessly simple melodies, majestic music, and a hypnotic voice weaving in and out of tinkling pianos, upbeat brass and lively keyboards.
It’s half detective movie soundtrack, half alien invasion computer game, featuring funky basslines, bouncy trombones and what sounds suspiciously like a Sony Ericsson ringtone. The song titles alone are worth the wait – ‘Visionary Road Maps’, ‘Excursions Into “Oh, a-oh”’, ‘I Was a Sunny Rainphase’. The half French, half English singing – you can’t always tell which – gives the album a mysterious and elegant edge. The individual songs are evocative enough, but to grasp the full extent of its enigmatic atmosphere Fab Four Suture has to be taken as a whole. It’s virtually a concept album, with recurring melodies framed by the droning, dreamlike ‘Kyberneticka Babicka’ parts One and Two.
Those expecting a break with tradition will be disappointed. Fab Four Suture doesn’t radically depart from their distinctive formula of cool futuristic jazz, power pop and ethereal singing. And with a band as experimental as this, newness is nothing new.
Reviewed by Kathryn Bromwich