Album Cover
Margerine Eclipse
January 27, 2004


I was afraid. Truly. The unexpected death of vocalist/guitarist Mary Hansen not only worried me for the sheer lack of a third voice, but also for a possible depress stricken Stereolab. I had even gotten to a point where I was afraid Stereolab would break apart after the death. But, perhaps I was making too much of the ordeal. The candidly titled Margerine Eclipse quickly abolished all of my fears.

Still, the album sounded precisely as I expected. You see, I had slowly been developing a theory. And that theory, put simply, is that Stereolab is the sound of outer space adventure. Slowly but surely I had pieced together the ranged sounds of previous albums to form a single picture of a joyous, bright universe. And Margerine Eclipse was exactly my vision. So, in a sense, it reflects the combination and solidification of Stereolab's "sound," at least in the overall scheme of things. Tracks of this album could be scattered to various previous outings, and fit in entirely.

The sound of outer space adventure is the best description of this album I could ever give. And "Cosmic Country Noir" is the epitome of my belief. Loops of bounced bass chug along as we fall into the black nothingness of space, led by fleeting, draining voices. And all of a sudden, the darkness of space opens up, and all the stars brighten and swirl. Keyboards whisper as guitars slowly hum, and then drums push into scene and launch the exploration of this new planet and it's inhabitants. The extravagance of adventure and amazement of cities unknown, peoples unmet, and sounds unheard, wavers constant as warping take-offs and landings jump back and forth, and the voices of homesickness linger with slight worry yet overall complacency.

Moments like "...Sudden Stars" only fuel my enthusiasm. The multiple layers that I have come to love of Stereolab are ever present, and each individual one I can trace back to a previous time. Those keyboards sound like something from [the better parts of] Cobra and Phases Group..., and that bassline, I swear I heard it on Mars Audiac Quintet, and that drumline, straight from Dots and Loops. Okay, maybe that's not something to be too excited about, but it's the Stereolab we know and love. And the mellow pensiveness of "The Man With 100 Cells" glows with lounge reflection, until shifting into an accelerated light speed wonder as voices echo "look ahead, navigate." Then it seems just as quickly the song finishes with solid lines of self-assurance, "you are the captain/do you feel equipped/you have now taken/the helm of your ship."

And so my biggest praise for this album also becomes my biggest criticism. This solidly formed sound of Stereolab is spread like butter over the majority of the album, seemingly limiting the power of extremes like the popped out stylings of "Ping Pong" or the buzzing rockiness of "Noise of Carpet." Also, where the album is abundant in song-shifting gimmick, even moments like "Bop Scotch" come nowhere near the emotional tense jump of Sound Dust's "Double Rocker." Even the most creative moments of Margerine Eclipse, like "Margerine Melodie" and "Dear Marge," although new and refreshing, fail to captivate with commendable strength.

Okay, so I wholeheartedly admit, as you most likely have been pointing fingers at, that my 'space age' musical opinions of Stereolab are not necessarily original, as virtually every person who knows their catalog will agree and have stated that if there is any kind of idea we might have for what music will sound like in the future, this is it. But, despite that overbearing fact, I had developed my theory completely autonomously. And when "Dear Marge" waves its goodbye's after its four relatively incohesive pieces and PS markings, Stereolab launches back into the night sky where they came from.

Andrew Wexler

Track List

  1. Vonal Declosion
  2. Need to Be
  3. ...Sudden Stars
  4. Cosmic Country Noir
  5. La Demeure
  6. Margerine Rock
  7. The Man With 100 Cells
  8. Margerine Melodie
  9. Hillbilly Motorbike
  10. Feel and Triple
  11. Bop Scotch
  12. Dear Marge