The Power Out sounds like a pastiche of different styles filtered through a uniquely singular voice. The all-woman band appropriates everything from Stereolab lounge on "Gone Under Sea" (where Verity Susman even sings in French like Laetitia Sadier) to Fifties-era choral music on the surprisingly expansive "The Valleys." It is to the band's credit that these forays are easily funneled into an overall art-rock sensibility that powers along at a low wattage like the third rail on a train track, pushing the songs inexorably forward.
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Electrelane is unapologetically feminist, crafting tracks about male hegemony ("Take the Bit Between Your Teeth") and relationships between women ("Love Builds Up"). Far from dogmatists, their musical approach veers from brazenly electric to, on the lovely "Enter Laughing," tender and sympathetic. The Power Out's mixture of bright optimism and political stridency almost seems like a relic of the early Nineties riot grrrl movement; some of its eleven tracks aren't more than cleverly rendered sketches based on jam sessions among the group's four members. Nevertheless they manage to exude a quiet charm that is infectious.