Kristina Feliciano
October 17, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Stereolab are still mourning the loss of guitarist Mary Hansen, who died last December, but their new EP is nonetheless an effervescent effort — and some of their best work since 1997’s near-perfect ”Dots and Loops.” ”Universe” even expands on their hook-drenched experimentalism: ”Jaunty Monty and the Bubbles of Silence” juxtaposes the chic languor of vocalist Laetitia Sadier with stretches of plucky electronica reminiscent of carousels, music boxes, and, uh, hoedowns. It’s ”Instant” gratification for those who can’t wait till early next year, when their next full-length arrives.

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