Oddly selected and sequenced EP collection is still prime Stereolab
The Stereolab discography is the ultimate record-collector obsession. Through its 14-year career, the band has issued a mind-boggling array of LPs, EPs and singles, each release typically coming in more than one edition. But every few years Stereolab makes it easy for less-rabid fans to hear everything by assembling a “Switched On” compilation to gather rarities and B-sides. This 3-CD set (which also includes a DVD of music videos) is something different, collecting the band’s EPs since the mid ’90s in their entirety. There’s a ton of great music here, ranging from Moog-driven drone rock (the epic “Nihilist Assault Group”) to Stereolab’s peerless lounge pop (“Miss Modular”). The downside is that the tracks are sequenced seemingly at random, resulting in rude stylistic and chronological leaps. It also doesn’t help that many of these EPs led off with an album’s first single, meaning that people with a few Stereolab records will already have a half-dozen of these songs. Still, considering that between 1994 and 1998 Stereolab was functioning at a peak few bands could ever hope to match, there’s too much great music here to pass up.