There’s a telling moment when Laetitia Sadier finishes playing ‘The Milk Of Human Tenderness’ and no one responds.
“Say something!” she pleads, adjusting the strap of her upside down guitar.
Half a dozen people applaud at her prompt but the uncertain silence encapsulates the challenge of playing tracks that are little more than half formed sketches.
Largely drawn from her third solo album, Something Shines, the material swaps her signature analogue synth for guitar. It’s a move that results in her largely abandoning the 60’s lounge music and motorik rhythms that marked her former band, Stereolab.
‘Butter Side Up’, with its krautrock interlude, is musically the closest she gets to her back catalogue. ‘Oscuridad’, meanwhile, continues her long-term commitment to left wing politics when she ponders, “Do the rich need the poor to be rich?” like an anti-neo liberal wing commander to Russell Brand’s revolution.
Sung over the barest of guitar lines, it’s the kind of song that goes nowhere fast and arrives there even slower. It’s a similar story with the aimless ‘Echo Port’, on which her two-piece backing band provide what could generously be described as a sophisticated jazz structure.
With such skeleton rhythmic hooks and no real choruses, the set drifts by in a fog of psychedelic guitar effects that use alternate hazy phase and deep space echoes around which the bassist adds occasional backing vocals.
These provide a degree of tonal variety and suggest some element of pre-thought structure but they’re sadly insufficient to make Sadier’s career shine again.
Gig date: December 7