Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet (1994)

Stereolab's music is a distinctive mish-mash of Fresh chanteuse pop music, shoegaze, post-Kraftwerk electronica, and, as an earlier EP aptly described it, space-age bachelor pad music.  They were incredibly prolific throughout the 90s and 00s, with more LPs, EPs, singles, and alternate version collections than you can possibly track.  Can't really say I have a strong preference for one over another, so I'll settle on 94's Mars Audiac Quintet, their third full-length and the one I first bought, so it's always had sentimental value for me.

The album is anchored by a few tunes that were as close to straightforward electronic indie pop-rock as they'd get, the pulsating, poppy groove of "Wow And Flutter" and the perky "Ping Pong," as well as the more sprawling "Nihilist Assault Group" and the upbeat, hooky "Transporte Sans Bouger."  There's also more trance-inducing psychedelia, as in "Anamorphose" and "Outer Accelerator."

While Stereolab draws a pretty devoted fanbase, not everybody is a sucker for ethereal French-sounding vocals over a wall of moogs and organs and "Sister Ray"-like repetitive riffs; but this one is a pretty good place to dip a toe into the water, a good balance of artsy background music and catchy, offbeat 90s indie rock grooves.  Or, if you want a more thorough career overview, I'm partial to 2005's Oscillations From The Anti-Sun, a nice little box set that captures the breadth of the band's work up to that point.

Here's the "Wow And Flutter" video:
And here's the "Ping Pong" video:
And, hey, if you've got time, here's an entire 1994 concert; great stuff.