On their first three albums, the group employed a deceitful "bait and switch" strategy. First, they would lure me in with one or two absolutely irresistible pop singles. Their 2001 debut, 604, featured "Playgirl," follow-up Light and Magic from 2002 included "Evil" and "Seventeen," and 2005's Witching Hour boasted the explosive "Destroy Everything You Touch." But the band filled the rest of those albums with considerably less tuneful and approachable material, admirable specimens of what we critics called "electroclash" before that term became a pejorative.
Velocifero does have some inspired moments, particularly at the beginning. "Ghosts" is sweetly ominous, riding a stomping shuffle beat and a careening guitar solo as Helena Marnie puts a fine point on her regrets ("There's a ghost in me/who wants to say I'm sorry/Doesn't mean I'm sorry"). "Runaway"'s punchy, cavernous sound recalls the heyday of industrial dance, which may not be such a surprise, considering that former Nine Inch Nails contributor Alessandro Cortini (also of Modwheelmood) worked on Velocifero, along with Ed Banger's Vicarious Bliss.
After the career-resuscitating left turn Ladytron made from the sputtering electroclash of Light & Magic to the streamlined synth-rock of Witching Hour, it was anyone’s guess where they’d go next. Velocifero continues straight down the road Witching put them on, which is why it doesn’t sound as fresh. Ladytron work with Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) and Vicarious Bliss from the Ed Banger crew, but it’s hard to decipher their contributions since they alter the familiar template so little.