It's now eighteen months since Stereolab took an indefinite hiatus from making music. Many fans reacted to that news in the same way they would react to the end of long relationship, their initial sadness slowly turning into an acceptance that things hadn't been great for a while, and that it was for the best. The band's more recent material was consistently solid and interesting, but never scaled the heights of majestic older records like Emperor Tomato Ketchup. They seemed to have caught Mogwai-itus, trotting out a series of enjoyable but backward-looking records which refined and sometimes tweaked their sound rather than taking it in dramatic new directions. Not Music, which consists of songs recorded prior to the hiatus, during the sessions which produced Chemical Chords, won't do much to change this school of thought. It sounds exactly like you would expect a Stereolab record to sound, all krautrock rhythms and sweet pop melodies. Listening to it is therefore a pleasure, but at times it's a pleasure tinged with regret: like examining some memento of that long-term relationship, it leaves you remembering better times and wishing that things had turned out differently.

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