Release Date: Feb 15, 2019
Record label: Ladytron Recordings
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Though they were wrongly lumped in with the electroclash movement not long after their arrival in the late '90s, Ladytron proved themselves to be sharply observant precursors to the synth pop resurgence that hit its peak in the early 2010s -- which is when they took a lengthy hiatus. During the band's time away, Helen Marnie released two solo albums; Daniel Hunt established himself as a producer and composer; and Reuben Wu made a name for himself as a visual artist and photographer. Eight years after 2011's Gravity the Seducer, the simply named Ladytron reasserts the fundamentals of the group's music -- namely, Marnie's and Mira Aroyo's vocals and the pulsing synths that surround them -- and they still sound fresh.
Two Decembers ago, news viewers were gripped by videos of flames engulfing the California mountains, cars on the 405 shuttling imperturbably toward the blaze. For the past couple years the world has produced apocalyptic scenarios like people exhale breath, but seldom have they looked so much like an apocalypse, like literally driving into hell--or running into it, as the cover of Ladytron's first album in nearly eight years seems to depict. Basically, there's something going on, and it's bad, and Ladytron are aware: Since 2011's Gravity the Seducer, the band members have scattered to Brazil, the U.S., England, and Scotland, a cross-section of recent disaster sites.
Early singles such as "He Took Her To a Movie" tapped into the electroclash sound popular at the start of the millennium, but they quickly moved onto melancholic pop with the likes of "Playgirl", while "Blue Jeans" and "Seventeen" were their first tentative steps into adding a grittier element to a sound which up until then was essentially synth-pop. As the band became exposed to a wider audience through support slots with the likes of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails , founding member Daniel Hunt's production work for Christina Aguilera, and remixes for Blondie and Paul Weller, their sound became harder, and their pop nous became more prevelan. This resulted in three three brilliant albums in a row: Witching Hour, Velocifero, and Gravity The Seducer.
When discussions arise about twenty-first century innovators in music, Ladytron's name gets missed far too often. Which is a crying shame as their single-minded approach at crafting intelligent, electronic pop with a leftfield twist deserves its place on the highest pedestal. From 2001's debut 604 - a record which felt like a breath of fresh air against an onslaught of homogeneous nu metal and acoustic drudgery - to their most recent long player Gravity the Seducer a decade later, they've continued to surprise, inspire and more often than not, shine like stars in an otherwise murky sky.
Ladytron appeared on the music scene in 2001 with their debut album 604 that, at the time, featured a contemporary synth pop sound with a decidedly European slickness. Not much has changed in the 17 years since, but if you do something well, why not keep doing it? Ladytron continues in the vein that made the band successful— a seductive and pulsating blend of analogue synth pop and melodic indie rock that sounds as if The Human League and The Sisters of Mercy got together for a night on the town. Only this time out, the retro futurist sounding tracks are constructed with a distinctly somber tone.
I f any band was going to bounce back from years of acrimonious hiatus with a soundtrack to our troubled times, Ladytron seemed unlikely contenders. Yes, that Ladytron, from Liverpool, whose heavy-lidded, robo-cool vocals defined the electroclash movement of the early 2000s and who haven't released anything since 2011. And yet their eponymous return is an immersive, invigorating and convincingly brooding stomp of disenfranchisement.
After expanding the parameters of electronic and club music in its first decade, the four members of Ladytron took an eight-year break before reconvening. The self-titled "Ladytron" (!K7 Music) aims to re-introduce the quartet to an audience accustomed to Soundcloud-era music saturation. Yet from the get-go, Ladytron makes it clear that it's in no hurry to ride trends or jump on the pop treadmill.