The Groop Played "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music"

Stereolab:
The Groop Played "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music"

[Too Pure/Beggars Banquet]
Rating: 8.7
Strangely, Stereolab's first great record had two parts (Easy Listening and New Wave) and a total of only eight tracks. Within days of its release, the critics were fawning. The sky turned orange, fish died, plasma was born, Dean Martin got a haircut and next thing you knew, lounge music was back in style.

How much of the lounge revival do we really owe to Stereolab? Probably more than we think. Their first flash of true brilliance, The Groop Played Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, was named after kitschmaster Juan Esquivel's best- known recording. It possessed a kind of hipness that came with a purple umbrella. A hipness even the losers could relate to. Then it went away (but just for a moment).

So what of Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, the band's recently reissued third release? Does it sound outdated? Will it have you wincing with embarrassment about that swinger party you threw where all your friends grew goatees and drank martinis? Well, about as much as any Stereolab release. That is, not really.

Though the "New Wave" part's got nothing on the cool- assed "Easy Listening" part, the whole record is a great listen. It's got some of that easy, breezy 1970s flair mixed in with some of that Plastic Bertrand 1980s stuff, which all sounds pretty decent. You've got a track penned by future Stereolab member Sean O'Hagan, and Sean himself even makes a couple of early appearances "Avant Garde M.O.R." and the terrific "Ronco Symphony."

Of course, Stereolab keep getting better with every release. Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops are really the jackpot nowadays, but Space Age Bachelor Pad Music is one of the band's first releases, and it's these seeds from which the genius has grown. The roots of a band that made it cool to be Fraunch.

- Ryan Schreiber, December 31, 1999