Stereolab release the latest in their series of oddities and rarities compilation albums, and it’s a de-luxe triple whammy.
“When Stereolab announced the release of Pulse of the Early Brain, the fifth installment in the avant-pop ensemble’s Switched On compilations gathering up material not found on their proper LPs, they noted that it was “possibly the final edition.” The use of “possibly” does leave the door open to the band finding more rarities tucked away on a forgotten hard drive or making new music together, but it’s hard not to see this collection as the band’s concluding statement. Pulse of the Early Brain collects every remaining leftover from Stereolab’s substantial discography—rare EPs, singles, and stray comp tracks—that had yet to be included on any previous Switched Ons or as bonus tracks on their recent run of album reissues. Thirty years after the release of the first Switched On comp, their known archives appear to be empty.
The breadth of the material included on Vol. 5 also has the unintended effect of serving as a far-ranging career overview for Stereolab. Though it isn’t sequenced in chronological order, Pulse hits on every stage of Stereolab’s sonic evolution. The earliest tracks date from 1992, the year that founding members Lætitia Sadier and Tim Gane were joined by their longest-standing collaborators, vocalist Mary Hansen and drummer Andy Ramsay. The most recent tunes were released in 2008, right before the group announced their hiatus. Even though the 3xLP/2xCD set jumps backward and forward in Stereolab’s timeline, the result is a fairly comprehensive portrait of their development from their initial motorik nihilist assault to the pop molecules of their later work.” – Pitchfork