Like her former band Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier’s new solo album draws on sounds ranging from French yé-yé to krautrock, though its tone is earthier. It features a duet with Hot
Like her former band Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier’s new solo album draws on sounds ranging from French yé-yé to krautrock, though its tone is earthier. It features a duet with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.
In an interview surrounding her 2014 album Something Shines, former Stereolab singer Laetitia Sadier laughingly said that, since the days of her old group, she’s been “cultivating the same piece of land, [but] maybe I grow different vegetables.” The pithy comment stands as a fairly perfect summation of the 48-year-old’s career. Since arriving on the European indie scene back in 1991 with the first Stereolab EP, Super 45, Sadier’s vocal and lyrical approach has remained consistent: She applies her crystalline alto to lyrics that explore philosophy and political inequality through a Marxist lens. In Stereolab and as a solo artist, Sadier’s musical tastes have tended to skew nostalgic, mixing influences of 1960s pop from the U.S. and Brazil, easy listening, and German kosmische.
Find Me Finding You, the first album she’s released as Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, also relies on these familiar musical elements. French drummer Emmanuel Mario and Brazilian bassist Xavi Munoz, both of whom played on Sadier’s previous solo albums, are present throughout, as is David Thayer, the filmmaker and musician who co-ran the group Little Tornados with Sadier. Opener “Undying Love for Humanity” burbles with intertwining guitar lines, stuttering keyboard signatures, and bouncing vocal harmonies—it recalls French yé-yé 45s and the knotty exotica of the Free Design. The rest of the album is dotted lightly with krautrock droning, Latin percussion, and chiming twee.
“Undying Love” is ultimately an outlier, though, playing with those elements that Sadier is most associated with before the album moves towards earthy tones and a temperate atmosphere. Find Me maintains a consistent mood better than any other album Sadier has released on her own or with the now-defunct side-project Monade. There are minor pulse-quickening moments, like the psych pop interludes within “Psychology Active (Finding You),” but everything else sticks to a calm mid-tempo like a resting heart-rate.
Still, there’s a wealth of variation to enjoy here. “The Woman With the Invisible Necklace” somehow connects flamenco rhythms with a post-punk swing akin to the Marine Girls. Closer “Sacred Project” shows off the keyboard collection of Ensemble member Phil F MU, with the rumble of Taurus 3 bass pedals warmly humming below a tinny modular melody and assorted synth squeaks. “Reflectors” builds confidently around a pulsing marimba and a rich bass tone before temporarily falling hushed, as guitar and flute waft around Sadier’s commentary. “Wars cannot overcome our troubles,” she sings, “Status, prestige, prominence, don’t mean a thing at this time.” Though Find Me was written before the Brexit vote and the U.S. political disaster, Sadier’s sharp eye for the slowly rolling tides of geopolitics gives these songs added resonance.
Sadier’s lyrical pattern continues on Find Me, as her lines revolve around tyrants, indoctrination, and states of conflict. This is what makes “Love Captive” stand out. A duet with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, it’s a ballad for slow dances, but it finds both singers shunning the idea of romantic love, wondering why we “make promises of eternity/When really a heart needs to run open and free.” Instead, they advocate for a broader definition: “We are made to love/Not to fall in love.” The song comes early in the album, but it provides a small lyrical breather that feels necessary to the whole. In the past, Stereolab’s 2001 Sound-Dust tracks “Nothing to Do With Me” and “Les Bons Bons Des Raisons” functioned similarly. Amid Find Me’s otherwise downcast worldview, “Love Captive” lets in some light.
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