Snob Talk: Where Did All This Stereolab Come From?

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Welcome to the first installment of Snob Talk, where we ask different writers to wax philosophic, and self-indulgent, about a new topic each week. This week, we had folks write about bands that they're pretty sure people laud more than listen to.

I’m astounded by how much of Stereolab’s music I own. It slipped into my life, unbidden and unwelcome, and now haughtily occupies more disk space than I ever meant to relinquish.

I vaguely recall my first exposure to the band. So many people I knew and respected talked them up that I finally got around to checking them out and really tried to like them. I wish I could say that I’ve since acquired the taste. I envy the folks who claim to like them. They seem more refined, more intelligent and worldlier than pop music critics like me. However, when I hear that pretentious, navel-gazing drone, I still feel pretty much the same as I did after my first listen – queasy.

A case could be made that Stereolab’s music was critical in the evolution of a genre, acting as a stylistic bridge from the indulgent-yet-innovative Krautrock of Can to the progressive chillout experimentation of Tortoise. This might be one of the reasons that some of the smartest people I know claim to like them.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the band’s music palatable. Lacking in both structure and melody, Stereolab’s experimentalism per se just ends up grating on even my nerves. Every worthwhile experiment needs a hypothesis – an anticipated outcome or purpose – but Stereolab’s experiments just lie there, simultaneously begging for attention and pretending to relish their obscurity.

They also take up an inordinate amount of space on my hard drive because I can’t quite bring myself to delete them. -- Eryc Eyl

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