Stereolab's once-thunderous drone may have decayed into a flimsy echo over the last few years, but that hasn't hushed Laetitia Sadier. In 2003 the group's singer released a solo album, Socialisme Ou Barbarie, under the name Monade -- and while it deviated from Stereolab only in scale, the project's homespun gawkiness displayed a fresh side of Sadier's lush, francophonic voice. The disc's followup, A Few Steps More, is a larger affair, captured in a conventional studio rather than a bedroom and sporting a proper four-piece lineup. But the sketchy charm found on Socialisme has been rendered too reserved and detached this time around, with tediously aimless strumming and strata of analog synths tugging listlessly at the chanteuse's la-la-la blah. For a while, Sadier's love of European pop and geometric recursion seemed to just magically click. But picking a threadbare kraut-rock groove and flogging it metronomically for 45 minutes doesn't quite cut it anymore.


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