Stereolab were one of the most significant bands to emerge in the first half of the 1990s. Initially, no-one sounded like them. It was a period where so-called independent music was dominated by grunge and then Britpop, both regressive and conservative forces. In contrast, Stereolab’s use of motorik rhythms at a time when krautrock was not a much acknowledged influence helped make their collection of esoteric influences (elements of jazz, bossa nova and funk with vintage keyboards and synths that still manage to sound futuristic and modern in the 21st Century and high-minded Situationist lyrics) danceable and accessible enough to allow songs such as ‘Ping Pong’ to brush against the lower reaches of the UK singles chart. Echoes of their work are apparent in many of the albums I review now.

While never likely to be such a significant game-changer again at this stage of her career, their frontwoman, Laetitia Sadier, has brought a similar level of adventure and questing spirit to the fifth album of her solo career, ‘Rooting for Love’. The record draws inspiration from Zen Shiatsu training exploring the need to heal ourselves and become undivided in the threat posed by Neo-fascist and neoliberal narratives polluting our inner and outer selves.

Amongst the ten tracks, there are a range of styles and instrumentation illustrated with the opening, ‘Who + What?’, with its concoction of synths, guitar, zither, trombone, vibraphone and contributions from the five-piece Choir who appear at intervals throughout the album. Its combination of chord and time-signature changes is an enjoyable headfuck.

‘Proteiformunite’ is one of the three songs sung in Sadier’s native French, invariably a lyrical sounding language, the final word being “Enlightenment”, recalling the moment watching news broadcasts on holiday abroad and the sudden revelation when an easily translatable word appears. Its restrained synths and sleepy vocals temporarily cede ground to sudden gleeful funk outbreaks. ‘Une Autre Attente’, translating as another expectation, is the most immediately accessible pop track and uses cut-up techniques to create surprising developments in its themes, moved forward by Emmanuel Mario’s drums, his great patterns disrupting and emphasising the synth and keys sweep.

‘Don’t Forget You’re Mine’, sets jittery guitar and rhythms enhanced by emotive strings to troubling lyrics by Veronique Vincent in an apparent reflection on ego and power relations, “Everyone knows you’re successful, not just a famous linguist’s wife… A good slap is what you need… get up babe”.

With its gamelan patterns, ‘Panser L’Innacceptable’ has a lounge flavour, enriched with flute, viola, violin and trombone augmenting its keys and synths. It indulges in linguistic wordplay with ‘panser’ meaning to bandage or otherwise immediately treat damage rather than the more effective long-term response, ‘penser’, to think.

The final four tracks develop the album’s themes. ‘The Inner Smile’ sees Sadier harmonising with The Choir amidst instructions to “Smile at all parts of your body…Smile smile and thank all your body”. There is an individual roll call of thanking kidneys, liver, glands. Being so bred with cynicism, it sounds strange yet is a valuable reminder of gratitude for good fortune that is too often taken for granted as the song becomes increasingly, delightfully loose due to Benjamin Gilbert’s wild guitar and Marie Merlet’s weaving flute patterns. With synthesized, looped vocals that briefly recall Laurie Anderson’s ‘Oh Superman’, together with Wurlitzer, marimba and vibraphone, ‘La Nageuse Nue’ explores inwards (“volunteers the ego / Social body / for a cleansing a healing experience / Which may turn the personality inside and out / Discloses the gold hidden within the heart.”) ‘New Moons’ sees her “Dreaming new forms into being” with the keys and synths becoming both other-worldly and powerful. In a call to utilise our powers, ‘Cloud 6’ explains “the world renounces its liberty because it is in fear”. With the repetition of her harmonies, the keys sounding like a horror movie theme and ending with the harshly spoken words, “I’m not fucking around / You’re half way dead”, it makes for a powerful conclusion to an album that is full of enjoyable challenges and surprises.

Laetitia Sadier: Rooting For Love – Out 23rd February 2024 (Duophonic Super 45s)

Sadier “Une Autre Attente” (Official Music Video) (

I was editor of the long-running fanzine, Plane Truth, and have subsequently written for a number of publications. While the zine was known for championing the most angular independent sounds, performing in recent years with a community samba percussion band helped to broaden my tastes so that in 2021 I am far more likely to be celebrating an eclectic mix of sounds and enthusing about Made Kuti, Anthony Joseph, Little Simz and the Soul Jazz Cuban compilations as well as Pom Poko and Richard Dawson.