The daughter of the popular late R&B singer Donny, husky voiced Lalah Hathaway is the perfect foil for Joe Sample's compelling notion that The Song Lives On. Finding a happy medium between the graceful straight-ahead jazz trio vibe of his Invitation album and the plucky pop energy of Spellbound, Sample provides Hathaway on seven of the 11 tunes with a showcase for her sultry approach.His and Bill Shnee's production approach is generally sparse, not much more than piano and bass, enhanced on occasion by Fender Rhodes and the occasional smoky input of Kirk Whalum. Sample doesn't seem to mind playing second fiddle most of the time, his trademark mix of dark chords and dancing, optimistic improvisations forming harmony lines behind her; often, though, his itchiness to step higher into the mix comes clear and he breaks into extended upbeat improvisations. On a cover of his Crusaders hit "Street Life," Hathaway turns the title into a mantra and Sample echoes her sentiments with sharp, percussive reiterations of the song's main melody. Then Hathaway stops and Michael Thompson steps in with some edgy electric guitar lines.
Released in 1993, Space Age Bachelor Pad Music refined Stereolab's sound further and also showcased the increasingly experimental focus of the band's music. Split into two sides – the gentle, intricate "Easy Listening" and the more upbeat "New Wave" – this eight-song EP ranges from the bubbly keyboard piece "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music (Foamy)" to the defiant, driving groove of "We're Not Adult Orientated." The sweet, close harmonies on "Ronco Symphony" and "The Groop Play Chord X" edge closer to the sophisticated, lounge pop-inspired sound explored during the rest of Stereolab's career, while the vibes of "Avant Garde M.O.R." and the fizzy keyboards of "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music (Mellow)" spotlight the band's more texturally complex arrangements. However, the immediacy of "We're Not Adult Orientated (Neu Wave Live)" and the hypnotic, fuzzy guitars on "U.H.F. - MFP" prove that while Stereolab gained more polish and ambition on Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, the band didn't lose any of its kinetic edge.