#47: Stereolab – French Disko (1993)
Staggering home through the fog. This lecherous rain, sunset with reverb. And yes, just as soon as ‘French Disko’ arrives on the turntable – the stylus grip, the crackle and thrum, then the fourth and final track from the Jenny Ondioline EP – I decide that my jaded ears now hears this track as a left-of-centre cover version of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’. It’s as if any similarity (admittedly slight) between each tune is that ingrained in my consciousness… or perhaps I simply fancy my chances at being the first internet dumb-ass to make a clumsy comparison between Lætitia Sadier and Lemmy.
On a more serious note, I’ve been attempting to define my relationship with this particular band – without a great deal of success to be honest. It’s an obtuse recognition of appreciation, wide-angled and slightly out of focus. Maybe it’s an issue of engagement; for however intelligent or challenging or acerbically satisfying their back catalogue is, there’s also a detectable ridge of aloofness, or even frigidity; of working in and around a construct without ever elevating it to the next level (see also: Hot Chip, and the man-apes struggling with the uncontextual monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) without truly threatening to become the iconic band both talent and vision clamours for.
Or maybe I’m very wrong; stuck with ears of the beholder and all that.
Still, ‘French Disko’. A wonderful track, totally devoid of that slight edge of alienation inexpertly referred to above (not to mention a constant during Lazer Guided Melody: The DJ Years). This is all about the delicious funnelling of Stereolab’s darker thoughts, layers of energy smeared across fragments of Situationist sloganeering. Much has been made of the political slant to the band’s lyrics, from Marxist interpretations to the more cynical view that sultry femmes singing tropes from a 1968 version of Paris sells records – which somewhat misses the point in my (admittedly Anarcho-Syndicalist) opinion); this could be a record concerning camenbert and it would still be a wow of a listen – and almost as well known as it already is.
Stereolab / French Disko