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Baker's Dozen

Chance-Taking: Stephen McRobbie Of The Pastels' Favourite Albums
John Freeman , June 3rd, 2013 08:53

With The Pastels releasing their first album in 16 years last week, original member Stephen McRobbie reveals the 13 albums that “defined his taste” and inspired his band


Stereolab - Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night
I think that Stereolab are a group that, at this moment in time, have become slightly neglected and are taken for granted by people. They are pigeon-holed as a bit exotic and eclectic and I just think that, as a body of work, their music is so rich and rewarding.

I have seen Stereolab play many times – The Pastels played with them a couple of times. They have a really great drummer and Tim [Gane] is a really great rhythm guitarist and then the sound of Mary [Hansen] and Lætitia Sadier’s voices were such a cool vibe. I love that they made so many records. For a group like The Pastels it takes us so long to do something that we feel alright about. Stereolab were so on it and had a record coming out every year but each record has its own identity in terms of the look and sound.

With Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night they had hit a real peak around that time - Dots And Loops is a great record too – and I think that a couple of the songs have a really reflective quality to them. There is a song Lætitia sings about her son, ‘People Do It All All The Time’, and it is really beautiful and emotional – although I could probably find something really emotional on most of the Stereolab records. [Fellow Pastel] Katrina [Mitchell] and I make mixtapes to play in the kitchen and that particular song is on a tape which we enjoy a lot.

When this record came out they weren’t at their most fashionable and maybe people were slightly jaded with them but they carried on making great records and they are really inspiring for new musicians. They are a fabulous group and fed into so many great things and are one of the most important influences for interesting things taking place just now. Julian House from Ghost Box designed a number of Stereolab’s album sleeves and I know that Stereolab really encouraged Broadcast, who then fed into the Ghost Box label, which I think is one of the most intriguing things happening in music right now. So, Stereolab have this great lineage and were a great ‘outsider rock’ group – there is something really exciting about them.