London, England’s Stereolab stick to what they know for their eleventh album, 2008’s Chemical Chords. Their French-inspired pop tweaked with what’s now well-known as “space-age bachelor pad” instrumentation makes for their familiar loose and free atmospherics. It sets the stage for Laetitia Sadier’s pop leanings to take firm hold with “Valley Hi!,” “Nous Vous Demandons Pardon,” and “Silver Sands,” while Sean O’Hagan’s brass and string arrangements perk things up throughout. The meandering inquisitions of “Neon Beanbag,” “Pop Molecule (Molecular Pop 1),” and “Vortical Phonotheque” are among the many deliberately obscure compositions that were allegedly boiled down from 32 potential tracks. Stereolab never settle for easy listening. Their rhythms consistently challenge and their melodies frequently hide behind ornate arrangements that threaten to fly away in the breeze. However, this lightness of being juxtaposes well against what initially feels like an intense intellectual study. Despite its high-brow allusions, this isn’t laboratory pop. It is birthed in the studio and heavily manipulated as a rule, but there’s an ease and sweetness that never veers towards abrasion.