Lush and elegant pop music
Ladytron - Gravity The Seducer

When Ladytron emerged at the start of the previous decade it was easy to write them off as electro chancers. ‘Blue Monday’ beats hadn’t at this point been merged with mid 90’s alternative pop but now it’s the norm trickling up to the very top of the pop tree where the likes of Gaga and Katy Perry reside. It’s easy to forget but as evidenced on their best of compilation from earlier this year, Ladytron did this first.

The mysterious anonymity of this Liverpool based act was at direct odds with the embers of the Britpop movement which was dying out at Ladytron’s time of inception, synthesisers were out, short cocksure men playing three chord based rock music were in. With the benefit of hindsight we can now see how Ladytron were right all along, just listen to The Stereophonics at their biggest and very worst, ‘Handbags and Gladrags’, next to the devastating ‘Seventeen’ from the same time, everything sounds like ‘Seventeen’ now whereas the 'Phonics are quite rightly remembered as retro rock creeps in boot cuts.

‘Gravity The Seducer'’s opening track ‘White Elephant’ signals their new approach, the minimal bossanova beats are washed over with Beach Boys ‘Smile’-era piano and swooning strings with Helen Marnie’s vocal harmonies almost Abba-esque in their depth. She is in fine voice throughout the album transforming from the sexless ice queen of the past to the heartbroken yearning on the viola laced ‘Ambulances’, Ladytron have turned their back on the past and now emit a feminine warmth. ’90 degrees’, the album closer (aside from a throwaway revisit of recent single ‘Ace of Htz)’, bookends the album is an astonishing blend of dramatic analogue synthesisers, fuzzy Wurlitzers and muted electronica beats, it’s 21st century shoegaze, almost Slowdive in its texture, a genuine showstopper of a track.

‘Mirage’ re-appropriates the sound of long lost 80’s one hit wonders The Passions, giving them a shot of 21st Century new wave cool, the instrumental ‘Ritual’ is a funky interlude with Eno atmospherics and the anxious, dark pulsing of ‘White Gold’ takes its cue from ‘Music For The Masses’ phase Depeche Mode and old techno 12”s from Berlin. These are three of Ladytron’s finest songs. Although there’s a new found spaciousness to their sound, they remember their claustrophobic past with the spooky ‘Moon Palace’, led by Mira Aroyo‘s slightly off-key detached vocals which add a sinister element to a track so oppresive it’s like being blindfolded and locked in a cupboard.

Each of Ladytron’s previous four albums have had a fair amount of filler but on ‘Gravity The Seducer’, they’ve dropped the Timbaland goes krautrock sound for a more subtle approach. By stripping back the layers of overbearing electronic production of the past, they’ve recorded an album of lush and elegant pop music, beguiling and gloriously cinematic.


Words by Chris Todd

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