“If there’s been a way to build it / there’ll be a way to destroy it / things are not all that out of control.” So sang Laetitia Sadier—over and over and over again—on Stereolab’s mantra-like 1993 signature “Crest,” the optimism of her words intensifying alongside the band’s hurricane-force hypno-drone.
Nineteen years later, on her second solo album, indie-rock’s original chanteuse is still pondering power structures and the average citizen’s relationship to them, albeit in less idealistic, more frank terms: Silencio’s idea of a pop hook goes something like, “Rating agencies / financial markets / and the G20 / but who are these people / and why on earth do we care about their opinions?” But if Sadier’s brand of breezy listening is subdued and stately compared to Stereolab’s space-age psychedelia, Silencio still delivers its weigthy and overly wordy statements with a light touch: The cautionary tale “There Is a Price to Pay for Freedom (And It Isn’t Security)” arrives as a wondrous orchestral overhaul of the Midnight Cowboy theme, while somewhere out there, some YouTuber with too much time on his or her hands is splicing the buoyant Mexicano coda of “The Rule of the Game” with footage of Pee Wee Herman dancing to “Tequila.”
And while Sadier doesn’t mince words when scolding the ruling classes, there’s also a certain delight to be had in hearing her call out the materialist hipster minions who aspire to their standard of excess: “Over-indulged children / drawn to cruel games / pointless pleasures / implusive reflexes / a group of assassins.” Tumblr that, bitches.
Playlist picks: “Auscultation to the Nation,” “There Is a Price to Pay for Freedom (And It Isn’t Security),” “Fragment pour le future de l’homme”
i) Laetitia Sadier plays the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W.) on Sept. 18.