In a wonderfully odd-yet-fitting set of circumstances, Stereolab vocalist Laetitia Sadier has never released solo material that sounded more like Stereolab in her post-Stereolab career than she has now, by finally forming a new band and cranking out this superb long-player. Find Me Finding You, the new album from The Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, out Friday on Drag City, is the riskiest thing she's probably released in decades. The group here is a collective but some names -- Emmanuel Mario and Xavi Munoz -- have worked with Laetitia before, while others -- keyboard player David Thayer, Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip -- are relatively new to Laetitia's material. And yet, this works more than perhaps any other album Sadier has performed on in the last decade or so. And it works precisely because Sadier has returned to the kind of risk-taking we heard on so many mid-period Stereolab records.
Superb opener "Undying Love For Humanity" offers up the sort of faux-bossa nova rhythm heard on the best tracks from 1997's Dots And Loops, while the languid "Double Voice: Extra Voice" recalls a less operatic (and shorter) run at "I Feel The Air (Of Another Planet)" from The First Of The Microbe Hunters (2000). To suggest these things is not to say that, as an artist, Laetitia Sadier is going backwards -- odd to qualify this statement considering the sort of past-looking retro-futurism that's been this singer's mission in Stereolab for so long -- but, rather, that she's returned to one of her most fertile periods of creative endeavor. Elsewhere, on "Love Captive", Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip joins Sadier, while later "Reflectors" achieves a sort of proto-Stereolab vibe in its simplicity as a tune. One could be forgiven, for instance, for thinking that this one, or the bright "Galactic Emergence", were some lost gems left off that excellent, early Switched On compilation. Near the end of Find Me Finding You, The Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble gels around the sci-fi-tinged "The Woman With The Invisible Necklace" before closer "Sacred Project" takes listeners to another plane entirely. The final cut is perhaps the riskiest here as it is nearly ambient music, but, again, it's not exactly a new phase for Sadier given certain tracks on Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (1993), for example.
A record that should serve as a big reset in her solo career -- not that she needed one, mind -- Find Me Finding You by The Laetitia Sadier Ensemble is an abundantly-fine album that challenges listeners with material that has already challenged the artist herself a tiny bit. By pushing in new directions, Laetitia Sadier has gone backwards to go forwards and the results make up this thoroughly excellent and adventurous release.
[Photo: Olia Eichenbaum]