Metronomic beats? Subtle yet complex layers of vintage keys and guitar? A woman singing robotically sexy French/English lyrics? Nope, it's not Stereolab; it's England's Electrelane. But while comparisons to its better-known influence are inevitable, Electrelane is no mere 'Lab creation. Formed in 1998, the all-female quartet has steadily assembled a devoted fan base around its warm, organic, palpitating amalgam of hip-shaking and hypnosis. 2001's Rock It to the Moon failed to make much of a dent in the collective indie unconscious, but the group's new release, The Power Out, hits all the right nerves. Like some gene splice of Clinic and the Raincoats, the disc teems with singsong riffs that lull and jangle simultaneously beneath the vocals of keyboardist/guitarist Verity Susman, whose weird, trumpet-like hiccups and squawks punctuate her honey-tongued cooing. Live, the outfit has been known to rip out a haunting rendition of Leonard Cohen's anti-war dirge, "The Partisan," showing that Electrelane is a deceptively sunny avant-pop act camouflaging a core of political conviction. A lot like Stereolab is, come to think of it.


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