Sometimes it takes two or three listens to appreciate and erase from the mind any pre-conceived ideas of what you were hoping for from an artist. That was the case with me on Ladytron’s latest self-titled sixth full length studio album, where they seem to have cornered the market on music to party to during the apocalypse.
It is never a good idea to go into an album and expect the result to live up to the greatness of the past -- for example, Ladytrons near perfect The Witching Hour(2005) that still feels fresh to this day. The last two albums (Velocifero - 2008 and Gravity The Seducer -2011) fell a little short, missing some of the power and magic that they are capable of conjuring up.
(Ladytron: The Witching Hour)
On Ladytron (I wish they would have picked another album title) things heat up at a fast clip on starter track Until The Fireas it references the apropos album cover art of a hastily abandoned car, and a couple clasping hands, running, not away from a forest fire, but instead towards the flames, defying all rhyme or reason -- I suspect symbolizing mankinds current logic free trajectory. The lyrics Oh we hang on the wire and the walls get higher, just until the fire catches them,capture a state of high anxiety which they play with throughout this album.
The path clears a little with second single, “The Island,” as it cleverly borrows a similar beat from Carley Simon’s “Why” and encapsulates us with glistening expansive analogue synths, creating a world that feels like comforting melancholy -- if that is a thing.
(Ladytron: The Island)
I always felt that The Druids would have loved Ladytron and blasted the classic, “Destroy Everything We Touch” at Stonehenge if they had had the chance. In an alternate universe, if Cersei Lannister and Arya Stark from Game Of Thrones were real people, this would be their favorite band. Gollum from Lord Of The Rings would have them on his favorite playlist as well. Ladytron flirt with a dichotomy between darkness and light as well as good and evil, that is unique to synth pop music.
As we travel further into Ladytron’s labyrinth we encounter, “The Animals” with a must see short film directed by Fernando Nogari. Founding member Daniel Hunt who currently lives in Brazil, describes the video as a love letter to São Paulo. Look for it on Youtube.
“The Animals” along with most of their music, showcases their ability to dabble in a kind of folk futurism, with complex harmonies that remind a little of The Mammas and The Pappas or a kind of twisted electro Scarboro Fair. I would love for them to do a cover of “California Dreaming.”
Lastly, I have to mention two outstanding tracks, and ,which would have fit just fine on a classic 80s soundtrack. Particularly on (should have been twice as long), there is a little bit of John Carpenter and Vangelis in it. Arpeggiated heaven? Yes.
There is missing a little bit of guitar grit and drive on throwaway tracks like the cluttered “Tower Of Glass” and “Paper Highways.”Some of the production feels inconsistent, lacking a bit of punch and the vocals on “Tower Of Glass” seem slightly muffled. Ladytron the album, is a grower, not a shower, and contains a lot more depth and nuance on repeated listens.