Laetitia Sadier, Music with Message @ Bar Le Ritz


Fourteen years since Stereolab released its last studio album, its leading lady Laetitia Sadier can still draw a crowd. Fans stood shoulder to shoulder all the way to the door on Saturday night at Bar Le Ritz PDB for the Montreal installment of Satier’s Rooting for Love Tour. With her gentle floating vocals and esoteric mid-song dances, a solo Sadier wooed audiences at the Ritz, performing songs spanning her career. 

Part of the indie wave of the 90s, Stereolab is best known for their politically motivated lyrics masked by playful melodies and their use of vintage recording equipment. Sadier along with Tim Gane have been the band’s longest-standing members, in a partnership that has lasted since 1990. 

Calling on influences from Krautrock (experimental rock from 1960s and 70s West Germany) to Bossa Nova and 60s lounge music, the band’s sound evolved over the course of ten studio albums. They brought something different to the indie scene with lyrics that ranged from quirky to informative. In particular, Laetitia’s songwriting has been influenced by the French philosophical movement of the Situationists, but Stereolab’s music was also imbued with a certain playful levity, i.e. their fourth album Emperor Tomato Ketchup. Their tunes have been sampled by a number of artists (such as Tyler, The Creator and J Dilla), and inspired other contemporaries like Pavement and Sonic Youth.  

Sadier continued with the politically motivated references when she embarked on a solo musical adventure back in the late 90s, christening herself Monade. Her first solo album under this name Socialisme ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings, was a nod to the French radical libertarian group of the same name. On Saturday, Saider had the audience swooning after performing the first track off the album, looping dreamy French verses while she took a moment of pause to showcase her trombone skills. 

Since performing under her own name, Sadier has released a number of albums that expand on her previous ideas about society and politics. In her latest album, Rooting for Love, Sadier doesn’t miss the chance to imbue her lyrics with a message. Sung in both French and English the songs indicate a sort of holistic yearning. The first track “Who + What” expresses longing to move past the confines of cerebral existence, she sings “thinking with whole body, understanding who and what we can be.” “The Inner Smile” is an ode to organs, a song of gratitude, she implores the audience to “Smile at the parts you’re aware of and those you’re not.” 

Laetitia in her 30-year career has gone to lyrical places where most people in the mainstream don’t venture, from Marxism to organ appreciation, showing an activist’s approach to music. I left the venue with a sense of appreciation for Laetitia’s honesty in both her stage presence and lyrics. And as per her instructions in “The Inner Smile,” I have been working on a more appreciative relationship with my spleen.

“Conjugate with the earth beneath… sit and smile today, smile, smile at your spleen, inundate it with light and be serene… Feel your organs smiling back.”


Photos by Joel Tourout