Music

Stereo Total: Baby Ouh!

This outing by Franco-German electropop standbys shows the band at their best--and their worst.


Stereo Total

Baby Ouh!

Label: Kill Rock Stars
US Release Date: 2010-05-04
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

Stereo Total is known for being a less Marxist, less spacey version of Stereolab. There's plenty of Franco-German electropop music to go around, and Baby Ouh! is no exception. It is impressive that the band, now simply a duo, manages to eke out such full sounds with only two musicians in the mix. More impressive still is that the band can be prolific this way -- while they recorded 40 songs for the album, 17 made the cut and comprise the French band's latest release. Although the songs are short, the album remains in need of editing to highlight the especially awesome tracks and cull the fold.

The most fun tracks are classic Stereo Total. "Violent Love" is adorably reminiscent of Do the Bambi's "I Am Naked". Actually featuring acoustic instruments, François Cactus has never sounded better than when she sings, "I wanna make violent love to you". "I Wanna Be a Mama" (mostly delivered by Cactus' male partner, Brezel Göring) is another winner, featuring doo-wop backing vocals and extraterrestrial synth sweeps. "Barbe À Papa" (the French term for cotton candy) is as light and airy as the carnival treat for which it's named. "Lady Dandy" is a standout track because it's slower than the rest of the album, giving listeners a chance to slow down and shake off all that post-dancing sweat.

The worst moments on Baby Ouh! are cluttered and noisy. If they offer hooks, those hooks are buried under noise that seems there for the sake of noise. "Larmes du Métal" is one such song, psychedelic synths swallowing the rest of the song. "Babyboom Ohne Mich" is perhaps the worst offender, with uninspired music and vocals that include screaming for no apparent reason. "Elle Te Bottent, Mes Bottes?" is a largely unsuccessful attempt at speed-pop. These three songs could have easily been removed to make a more respectable 14-track album that still had all the charm of Stereo Total at their best.

At 17 tracks of similar music, the songs are bound to blur together. Not only that, but the songs are so much alike that there's no way this album can be successfully epic. Lengthy albums require a perfect balance of cohesiveness and deviance, and Baby Ouh! fails to achieve that balance. Perhaps working as a prolific duo is showing its limitations. Without fresh input, a band can easily become complacent and repetitive in their sound. And ater recording 40 songs, one has to wonder how high -- or low -- the bar was set for which tracks would make the final cut.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.