A tremendous live band with a songbook to match, London's Stereolab draw crowds even as their albums feel less like the cultural events they once were—though am I wrong to hear their airy influence in Estelle's Top-40 candy "American Boy"? Still, anyone tuning out after 1997's Dots and Loops has missed at least a couple of enduring surprises per disc amid endless modulations in ornate retro-groovy easy-listening, while 2004's Margerine Eclipse is playable from front to disco back. The thoroughly Stereolab-y new Chemical Chords (Duophonic/4AD) isn't quite a return to groundbreaking form, but contains some of their best songs yet for the melancholic radical, including the typically sad-sounding revolutionary anthem "Fractal Dream of a Thing": "As long as man will exploit man.... There will be no normality and no peace." With Monade and Le Loup.
Sun., Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m., 2008
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