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Laetitia Sadier - Silencio

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Artist: Laetitia Sadier

Album: Silencio

Label: Drag City

Review date: Jul. 23, 2012

The solo debut by a singer strongly identified with a band can say a lot about what the singer doesn’t like about the band, and so it was with Laetitia Sadier’s The Trip. Away from Stereolab she discovered a gift for concision, often a very good thing in pop music. She also foregrounded an emotional transparency that tended to be obscured by Stereolab’s polished surfaces, knowing genre references, and extended instrumental passages. The title song deftly expressed the complex feelings of surviving a sister’s suicide; putting a dreamy Euro-disco cover of Les Rita Mitsouko’s “Un Soir, Un Chien” on the same record made the loss sadder, the sweetness in bitter-sweet perseverance more pronounced. Moments like those were enough to make up for the fact that it was a 30-minute album with filler, which came in the form of clunky ballads.

But Sadier’s always been a political artist, and nothing snaps you out of yourself quite like having the world’s economy turn belly up. She’s been critiquing capitalism from a platform of vintage grooves for two decades now, and if you’ve been waiting for a follow-up to “Ping Pong,” she’s at your service with “Auscultation to the Nation,” which contains the recurring line “Rating agencies, financial markets, and the G20.” There’s even an analogue synth interlude courtesy of Sam Prekop to make up for Tim Gane’s absence behind the knobs. If the Occupy Movement has a chanteuse-in-waiting, it’s Sadier.

Elsewhere, Sadier does a little occupying of her own. “There is a Price to Pay for Freedom (And it isn’t Security)” doesn’t actually have many more words than you’ll find in that awkward title, spending most of its four-plus minutes on a wash of mellotron strings that pitches a tent in the court of the Crimson King and refuses to budge. Recorded strings be damned, she uses a real (albeit overdubbed) choir on “The Rule of the Game,” creating an uneasy balance between vocal textures as thick and subtle as a paint-roller’s path, an elegant, Brian Wilson-worthy bass line, and lyrics that take the ruling class to task for being spoiled, greedy children. The Yé-yé girl with the little red book in her hand is at the door, and she has come to take over the prog clubhouse. But the rest of the time Silencio sounds more like a more succinct edition of Stereolab. It’s as though she’s taken the lesson of The Trip — that you can get over the most extreme pain — and used it to come back to her musical home.

By Bill Meyer

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