A seven-year hiatus between albums has done wonders for Ladytron. The band’s eponymous album is a return to form channeling the best of Ladytron’s sound.
I’ve been listening to Ladytron since discovering “Seventeen” on a public access music video program back in early 2003. Through ‘604‘ (2001), ‘Light & Magic‘ (2002), and ‘Witching Hour‘ (2005) Ladytron provided haunting lyrics overlaid atop thumping and gritty beats. These albums put a spotlight on the texture and friction provided by the older synths that Ladytron use. These albums were always music for me to listen to while driving at night. There’s something about the melodies that resonate with lights passing quickly set into the night sky.
‘Velocifero‘ (2008) was an evolution of Ladytron’s aural stylings bringing them to a more upbeat and pop-y space. This was the album I chose to introduce friends to my love of Ladytron as it feels to me to be the one with the most mainstream appeal. ‘Gravity the Seducer‘ (2011), Ladytron’s previous album, was an experimental venture into an airy and open sound. The spacious sound lost much of the grittiness that I love about Ladytron and was my least favorite of their albums.
‘Ladytron‘ (2019) brings the band’s sound back to their earlier work with hints of ‘Velocifero‘ and ‘Gravity the Seducer‘. It’s clear that the band has been influenced by the politics of the day with a theme of “the other” running throughout the album. The foolhardy isolationism of Brexit and the cold disregard for the plight of the refuge feels front and center in the lyrics. Ladytron brought in Sepultura’s Igor Cavalera on drums for this album who provides an insistent pace through the songs. ‘Ladytron‘ is their easiest album to listen to from beginning to end in a single play as the songs’ diversity and composition keep the listener engaged from start to finish.
Things kick off with “Until the Fire”, a pumping anthem which sets the tonal course of the rest of the album. “The Island”, one of the album’s singles, captures so much of what makes Ladytron special. It features ethereal vocals with a beat you can’t help but move to. “Tower of Glass” features what is probably my favorite synth work of any Ladytron song; it’s as if they took everything I love about Dr. Who’s “Hey” theme song and made it richer and fuller in every way. “Far From Home” is the most nostalgic song on the album for me. It feels like a mix of every album that’s come before it. “Paper Highways” is Ladytron’s Mira led track. Mira’s songs usually carry extra weight and darkness but this one has an element of optimism and a toe-tapping beat. “The Animals” has the catchiest chorus on the album and a brilliant music video.
Really a focal point for the theme of the album, “The Animals” speaks to a sense of equality for humanity that’s sorely missing from most of our lives. “Run” is the album’s quintessential haunting song, like Light & Magic’s titular song or Witching Hour’s “Beauty*2”, but it has an edge that makes it feel like it would fit perfectly in a slow-motion action scene starring Keanu Reeves. “Deadzone” has a whispered intensity, unlike anything I’ve heard before. It builds into the deep baseline of “Figurine” where the chorus releases the intensity and embraces the listener with Helen’s vocals. “You’ve Changed” captures the feeling of loss when someone or something you were close to changes into something you can’t stand. Its anger and disbelief is contrasted against “Horrorscope”’s carnival mystery.
“The Mountain” feels like a journey. As the members of Ladytron spent years traveling and being apart, this song brings the listener along with them during that time. It’s like being away from home for years only to return and have things feel different when you return. “Tomorrow is Another Day” feels like a song that presents the idea of leaving your wants and desires undone. The phrase ‘tomorrow is another day’ is an excuse and one that keeps us from reaching our goals. Ladytron leaves the listener with a message to be better. Consider the outsider as human, be strong against the worst of society, and don’t save positive change for tomorrow.
The album comes out Friday on !K7 and can be pre-ordered from our friends at Rough Trade by clicking here!