A new Solex album (The Laughing Stock Of Indie Rock being the first in three years) is a treat and a gift. Elisabeth Esselink (aka Solex) builds her songs out of "found sounds" and samples from used CDs and taped bootlegs in the basement of her Amsterdam CD shop, and the result is music the likes of which almost no one else is making right now - pop music that challenges the head while simultaneously moving both the heart and feet! The Detroit Metro Times describes Esselink's music as "heavy orchestral cartoon music for carports; William Burroughs as Bugs Bunny; like 'Fantasia' for 60s delinquents, a strong dose of freakout fun."
Esselink's songs, not to mention her coy, mischevious voice and prankish, crafty lyrics, are often compared to that of Bjork and Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori. While the latter band has long since broken up, and Mrs. Gudmundsdottir has spent her last two albums meandering about in search of a memorable melody or rhythm, Solex has proudly carried along the tradition of tightly crafted, idiosyncratic, and utterly winning pop. Her last three brilliant albums on the Matador label (which inexcusably dropped her from their label for being too eccentric - !?) were masterpieces of warped, kitschy dementia, head-spinning originality, and delightful sounds. To listen to a Solex song or a Solex album is to literally be wrapped up in and hanging on every moment, every note, every outrageously creative and unexpected direction and detour, texture and effect - all the while having great fun figuring out how to dance to the damned things!
Whereas her previous albums often consisted in large part of inspired sonic experiments carried out over a number of minutes, The Laughing Stock of Indie Rock (Arrco) is probably Esselink's finest collection of purely constructed SONGS; indeed, verse/chorus/verse structure is prevalent throughout the whole disc. "The Boxer" and "Take That Gum Out!" are more giddily toe-tapping and genuinely radio-rotation-worthy than anything on Bjork's highly hyped latest 'Medulla' album. "Yadda Yadda Yadda No. 1" re-imagines Cibo Matto's trip-hop as performed by a Cajun horn ensemble at the world's most demented Mardi Gras. "Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like An Egyptian," in Esselink's words, conjures up a line dance between the Bangles and Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian - imagine a country/alt tiki torch procession and you're almost there. (Out of the entire set, only "You're Ugly" and "On An Ordinary Day" fall into, well, a sort of ordinariness - which is an adjective otherwise impossible to apply to Solex's gleefully unorthodox musical strategies.) Album closer "You've Got Me" recalls the sweeping and hypnotic ambient lyricism found on Yo La Tengo's masterful 2003 'Summer Sun' LP; over a gorgeously ethereal backdrop of piano, drum brushing, glittering keyboard samples and guitar noodling, Esselink softly croons and wails while a 'mystery guest' (actually one Mr. Stuart Brown of Australia) recites a spoken word tome, "Nobody told you/how to unfold your love." It may just be the most beautiful music Solex has ever created; if you count yourself as a pop music romantic, it will unquestionably break your heart into a million blissful, shimmering pieces.