It's easy to imagine Electrelane as the bad seeds that Stereolab keeps locked up in the basement. While most of the modern Kraut-rock disciples are clean and "groovy," Electrelane is a quartet of Farfisa-mad photogenic feminists whose instrumental first album, Rock It to the Moon, sounded like Neu!'s hyperkinetic remixes arranged for carnival organ. It was as close as Kraut rock has gotten to punk since Moonshake and Laika turned it into dreamy, spacey fare.
And if you expect the past three years to have mellowed Electrelane out, you're in for a surprise. The new album, The Power Out, is even more stir-crazy than its predecessor. Organist Verity Susman has stepped up to vocals, becoming a Nietzsche-quoting, deranged-and-chirping frontwoman who holds forth in four different languages. When Power isn't tightening the blueprint of Moon, as on "Love Builds Up," it's brimming forth with new ideas, like the chilling choir vocals of "The Valleys" or the discordant piano-drum jazz piece "You Make Me Weak at the Knees." New influences abound; you can hear the Raincoats peeking their heads into Susman's vocals, or the thick arrangements of the Young Marble Giants turning the organ drones into hooks. All in all, they have become great experimentalists like Clinic or the Fall, writing (and unwriting) the rules of their music as they go. Granted, a night spent watching Kraut rock might not sound like the liveliest spectacle. So don't think of Electrelane as a German-inspired female quartet; think of them as four pretty, deranged pop geniuses rocking your world with their organs.