Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring weren't exaggerating when they named their band Stereo Total: A French-German duo based in Berlin and given to collaborating with various other folks who pay for their records with euros, ST makes a version of cut-and-paste pop that doesn't cut much, a spirited, surprisingly subtle collision of canned beats, cellophane guitars, goofy samples and as many cheap keyboards as can fit beneath a coach-class Eurail seat. Musique Automatique, the band's latest album (released last year on Illinois retro-pop indie Bobsled but just reissued by Kill Rock Stars, and what does that say about them?), doesn't include a cover of "Get Down Tonight" as their 1998 U.S. debut did, but it does feature "Forever 16," in which Cactus announces that she's "not a nice and sweet baby with lollipops and pink panties." Hard to say what openers and New York City synth-pop fetishists Soviet were thinking when they decided on that handle: The relentlessly faithful OMD/Human League pastiche that is the group's debut, We Are Eyes, We Are Builders (a title nicked from old-school Polish film-school staple Dziga Vertov, so maybe that's it), is so brazenly English it's no wonder the NME has taken an early shine to the band. Come early for useless beauty; stay late for pointed fun.
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