After a nineteen-year run as frontwoman and co-founder of the highly influential post-rock band Stereolab, the band’s hiatus in 2009 didn’t stop Laetitia Sadier from making music. In 2012, Sadier released her first solo album, The Trip, and two years later she released its follow-up, Silencio. In 2013, she offered her Astrud Gilberto-esque vocals to Tyler The Creator’s second album, Wolf, on the extended track “PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer.” So suffice to say Sadier can wear an assortment of musical hats and have them all fit perfectly. On her third solo album, the new Something Shines, Sadier returns to a sound more in-tune with the work of Stereolab, and the results are splendid.
Like Sadier’s previous solo projects, Something Shines combines personal and political themes throughout the album, coupled with songs sung in French that are sparse in lyrics and heavy on instrumentation. “Then, I Will Love You Again” is about Sadier’s relationship with Stereolab bandmate/co-founder Tim Gane, and it offers a brutally honest look into the union (“I don’t see how/How to reconcile, how to transgress the boundary reality’s holding in place/Until your oh-so-precious little ones/From past union/Have found their way.”) On “Oscuridad,” Sadier talks about the parasitic nature of the rich preying upon the poor, with its jarring lyrics: “Do the rich need the poor to be rich/Would there be poverty if there weren’t any rich/Is it in the interest of the rich to eradicate poverty?” While the lyrical content is strong, the prog rock-inspired tracks that gain momentum as the songs proceed, like “Release From the Centre of the Heart,” are the album’s finest moments.
Something Shines lives up to its name, as a triumphant return to the kind of music eager Stereolab fans have been missing out on for years, and it proves that Sadier is the main component behind what made the band so very essential.