Wednesday, March 23, 2011

pop*eye...Laetitia Sadier—The Trip (2010)


Laetitia Sadier
The Trip (2010)

*I proud to highly

With the exception of Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops, nearly every album by Laetitia Sadier’s old band, Stereolab — now on indefinite hiatus — has met with ambivalent reviews. If, like me, you were late to the party, encountering negative reviews is disorienting: the band’s reputation throughout the ’90s seemed airtight. The Internet keeps saying that they spent too much time stuck in a comfortable rut, but it seems odd to complain about this while acknowledging Stereolab’s operative influences were krautrock and lounge. As a pop band whose music aspires to hypnotic, crisp repetition, it’s difficult to determine when sameness is a weakness or the point. Stereolab existed, it would seem, to make the world safe for Stereolab. Robert Christgau wrote them off with the tidy phrase Marxist background music, but it’s not as if many bands have the theoretical or musical chops to emulate the band.

Sadier has also released three albums as part of Monad, but she does not sound very different as a solo artist than she does as the member of a band. Her debut solo record, The Trip, sounds like an extension of the other records Sadier has appeared on, although the songs are more approximately played and less focused on airtight arrangements. The first song, “One Million Year Trip,” is cleverly written, giving the impression of ascending infinitely like an Escher staircase, with Sadier’s voice hitting a lot more notes than she usually does on a Stereolab track. Increased dynamic range also comes with awkward moments where her voice moves through a sour note, but the regular beat of a ring-modulated snare drum and tasteful, scattered sci-fi bloops keep the song from losing its shape.

Even if she doesn’t depart much from it, Sadier proves there’s still life in the Stereolab sound, a band whose problem wasn’t stagnating but refining itself into oblivion. Sadier isn’t as interested in fetishizing her own voice as Tim Gane was, so the big reveal here is that she doesn’t always have to sing like a francophile’s idea of an intellectual — she’s just as effective singing in a more traditionally narrative way over tracks that still feel rough and improvised. In its detached guise, her voice can be the perfect ornament for music obsessed with surface texture and pattern, but here it seems for the first time to be giving the music cues rather than floating on top of it, signifying and shit. “Statues Can Bend” is even a creepy ballad in which Sadier combines chanson and downer Radiohead tropes into something glum, autumnal and human, ripe for a Stuart Staples cameo. This singer-songwriter mode is a good look for Sadier, even though she relies on lyrics like “burning with sensooalitee.”

Sadier’s voice represents something about ‘90s music that hasn’t been picked up in the current wave of nostalgia, which makes it feel dated. That voice is so much the main character in everything she’s been involved with that it’s easy to miss her doing something new, like the moment when, oh snap, she’s suddenly in a Sebastian Tellier seducto-track (“Un Soir, Un Chien”). It also makes it easy to forget how strong the songs making up the album are. The Trip is casual, low-stakes pop that is easy to live with.

The Trip is casual,
low-stakes pop that is easy to live with.


All about
Laetitia Sadier
Lætitia Sadier (born 6 May 1968, sometimes known as Seaya Sadier, or “The Shah”) is a French musician best-known as the singer of the post-rock band Stereolab.

Sadier was working as a nanny when she met McCarthy leader Tim Gane at a gig in Paris during the late 1980s. Sadier was disillusioned with the rock scene in France, and soon moved to London to be with Gane and to pursue her career. She had contributed vocals to McCarthy’s third and final album. The band broke up in 1990 and she and Gane immediately formed Stereolab. For the first incarnation of the band, they enlisted ex-Chills bassist Martin Kean, drummer Joe Dilworth and Gina Morris on backing vocals.

While Tim Gane has written the bulk of the music in Stereolab, it is Sadier’s singsong, alto vocals and often revolutionary lyrics (both in English and French) that have become trademarks of the band’s sound. Sadier also plays keyboards, percussion, guitar (she’s left-handed) and trombone.

In 1996, Sadier formed the spin-off band Monade with Pram’s Rosie Cuckston.

Sadier has contributed vocals to various other groups and projects, at times along with the late Stereolab member Mary Hansen. Among her contributions were, adding French backing vocals on To the End, a top 20 hit for Blur in 1994. In 1995, Sadier had recorded the Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot song “Bonnie and Clyde” with Luna. She and Hansen had contributed vocals to the recordings of The High Llamas (the project of sometimes-Stereolab member Sean O’Hagan). In 2001, Sadier sang on “Sol y Sombra” on Fugu’s Fugu 1 LP on Minty Fresh Records. In 2002, Sadier sang the chorus on New Wave from Common’s album Electric Circus. She sang lead vocals on Haiku One from Sigmatropic’s 2004 album Sixteen Haiku & Other Stories which was an album based on the poetry of Greek poet George Seferis. In 2009 the French label Deux Mille released an ep which features Laetitia Sadier singing with momotte, a band out of Toulouse.

Sadier also wrote and sang the lyrics to the track Quick Canal by Atlas Sound for the 2009 release Logos.

In 2010 she released a solo album called The Trip.

While she spent most of her formative years in France, Sadier’s family travelled extensively and she lived briefly in the US as a child.

After many years together (they remained unmarried), Sadier and Tim Gane split up in 2004, but they continued to work together in Stereolab until the band’s hiatus in 2009. They have a child, Alex, born in 1998.


'Laetitia Sadier has a sound that goes right to the heart.'

Laetitia Sadier, photo by Patrice Hanicotte

- Laetitia Sadier -
The Trip
"One of our Best POP album Artist we missed in 2010!"


“A uniquely charming voice and equal brains as a songwriter!”

the portastylistic

No comments: