|Laetitia Sadier's latest solo album Silencio (on Drag City) accomplishes a rare feat. The former Stereolab vocalist has made a record that proves songs with political content can still be "listenable". That is a bold statement, so let me explain. Many people believe that music and politics shouldn't be combined and art should stick to being entertainment. I am NOT one of those people. The personal is political. Not that every song needs to be as pissed off sounding as "Sleep Now In The Fire" by Rage Against The Machine (or that music so angry fits every moment in life), but you get the drift. Silencio rails against an irresponsible wealthy elite and upholds an art as resistance aesthetic that goes well with Occupy-leaning sensibilities but her views never tip the hand of the music. Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School Of Medicine just released a fun pro-occupy singalong song "Shock-You-Py!" but, for example, it probably won't fit those early mornings when I want music on while I am helping my girlfriend get her daughter ready for school. I can imagine myself having Silencio on in almost any mood or situation, which is the highest compliment I could give a record.
I don't mean to imply that Silencio has excellent content but tepid sounds, either. This is by far one of the more interesting records I have heard all year. Sadier's bewitching, breezy voice brings you through the looking glass into this dreamy yet socially engaged body of work, a seductive and yet educational journey. Background vocals act almost like musical instruments themselves at points and the captivating melodies and smart use of tempo changes song in the track order (a pre-MP3 concept, I know) really make this record flow. It reminds me blissfully of when I first fell in love with the Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements Stereolab release years ago. A tightrope balance of minimalism and maximized textures, Silencio is a much more Sadier-centric (than group) release, but it will seep into your consciousness in the same thrilling slow burn way until you can't stop listening to it.
"There is a Price To Pay For Freedom (and It Isn't Security)" is my favorite track. It oddly reminds me of if "Kashmir" by Zeppelin was really a mellow Roxy Music song instead of a bluesy march until the vocals kick in and the track becomes languid indie hypnosis. "Find Me The Pulse of the Universe" on the other hand has a semi-tropical beat and a searching feeling. Other standout tracks include the pop perfection of "Lightning Thunderbolt" (the name alone is great and the song savors transformative power) or the boiling with intensity "Rule Of The Game" (featuring Sadier's most blatantly political lyrics to date.
It is always refreshing to hear an album that champions being informed and inspires at the same time a feeling of reflective contemplation in the listener. Her music will enfold you so fully into your head or with such a physical blanket of warm yet cooling sounds draped across your shoulders that the line between music and listener blurs as the songs become "your own" experience. I would be beyond thrilled to hear this material in a great intimate live setting like Bowery Electric or a lovely and breathtaking outdoor amphitheatre such as Red Rocks. You could easily imagine "Silent Spot" drifting above the heads of the audience like a barely tangible audio ghost you want to reach up and grasp and study. Kudos!
Put this on and paint a masterpiece of your own, write a manifesto, make some love not war or something.