Stephin Merritt at one point wrote for Time Out New York. They recently posted all his works online.
Aluminum Tunes is not a new Stereolab album but two CDs of B-sides and outtakes and such. Three or four years ago, Stereolab was an indie-rock group with intentionally unintelligible singing, obscure words drawn from Marxist tracts, really long songs consisting of one chord, Velvet Underground shtick, lackluster playing skills and plenty of charm. Nowadays, it still has the charm part, but indie rock is dead—Stereolab helped kill it. Now its music is much better.
That has to be the greatest summary of Stereolab I’ve ever read.1 Merritt also sums up McCartney’s classic Flaming Pie with “All around, this album is better than most.” Straight forward, to the point, and brutally honest. Or when reviewing McCartney’s former bandmate, Ringo Starr, Merritt says “his version of Lennon-McCartney’s “Love Me Do” only points up the insipid lyrics.”
Among my favourite is his biting review of a ’90s Joni Mitchell album, in which he says “she’s still doing that jazz thing and wondering why she doesn’t get enough respect while working in a combination of two contradictory dead languages: Singer-Songwriter and Jazz.”
Check it out. Laughs are to be had.
- I love Stereolab. [↩]