Sunday A.M. Radio: Stereolab sings in French

Some of my favorite lyrics are in languages I can’t understand. Sometimes the combination of the mood of the music and the tone of the vocals in a certain song makes me think I almost know what the lyrics mean despite not understanding the language they are being sung in at all.

I don’t speak French. I took French in 8th grade because lots of girls signed up for it. I didn’t get much further than the phrase “je m’appelle Michel.” I was already confused as to why my name had to be a girl’s name.

Now of course, I’d love to speak another language and I still would like to learn French. In the meantime though, I’ll listen to Stereolab’s “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” and pretend that I know what it’s about.

In my mind it’s about a scene taking place inside a futuristic lounge-y laundromat where lots of French girls are washing white clothes and a sad robot in a beret tries to get a date with each of them but is consistently turned down. It’s ok though because everyone suddenly decides that it’s time to eat fancy pastries and compose text messages to their Jamaican cousins. Then a disco ball drops from the ceiling and everyone starts to dance while the robot plays a glockenspiel. Eventually the robot scores a date with one of the washing machines. Everyone leaves the laundromat feeling happy with their clean clothes.

That’s probably what it’s about, anyway.

Honestly, I really don’t know much about Stereolab, except that I really like everything I’ve heard by them. I guess they are on a hiatus after nearly 20 years of playing together in various lineups. I hope they return one day and create new music in languages I can and can’t understand. If you really want to find out all about their history, influences and what kind of toothbrushes they use, you can find more about them on the internet.

Refractions in the Plastic Pulse – Stereolab

You can listen to Stereolab’s entire Dots and Loops album here. Any requests for next week?


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Posted in Sunday A.M. Radio

Mike Andrelczyk is a features editor for Fly Magazine. He is a graduate of Penn State University and currently lives with his wife Stacey in Strasburg. Interests include tennis, playing bad guitar, poetry (poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, The Inquisitive Eater and other journals) and oneirology – the study of dreams – mostly in the form of afternoon naps. His name appears in the title screen of Major League 2.

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