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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 2/25/19

    Ladytron - Ladytron (!K7)

    Ladytron remain one of the most unclassifiable, underrated bands of the last twenty years. Quickly and lazily lumped in with the short-lived electroclash movement of the early aughts, the group proceeded to chart a startling evolution. The group incorporated shoegazing guitar textures and pummeling dance rhythms in a manner unheard of since the early heyday of Curve, a kindred spirit in their ability to consistently predict future sonic trends just before they catch and keep flying just under the radar as they do. And like that band, Ladytron also quietly went away after releasing a solid but relatively sedate swan song, just as artists both indie and mainstream began to maximize the sounds they spent their career perfecting for use.

    Eight years later, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, the self-described "sirens of the apocalypse" have returned, with an album that manages to both reassert their command of craft and suitably soundtrack the dystopian reality that has blossomed in their absence. No one ever went to Ladytron for sunshine and lollipops, but it remains a revelation how much heavier the group sounds on their eponymous comeback. By filtering the shimmering songcraft of Witching Hour through Velocifero's black onyx prism of sound, the album strikes a delicate balance, chaotic but also comforting, and above all consistent.

    There is no one song that runs away with everything like "Seventeen" or "Destroy Everything You Touch." Nevertheless, highlights abound. Early single "The Island" sounds like CHVRCHES produced by Robin Guthrie, while "Tower of Glass" is a soaring, cinematic wonder that sounds every bit as formidable yet fragile as its title suggests. Elsewhere, it's gotten easier to hear links to artists that wouldn't have been as obvious before. "Deadzone" takes back the Body Talk synths that Robyn has abdicated and mutates them into something far more sinister, while the predatory pulse of "You've Changed" would leave fans of "Bad Romance"-era Gaga gagged. 

    The album does run a little long, like a deluxe album but with the b-sides stuffed into the mid-section (looking at you, "Paper Highways"), and it may not inspire the wave of artists that flourished in the wake of previous Ladytron peaks. However, it's no fault of the band's that the times caught up with them, for better and for worse. That Marnie and Aroyo managed to come back nearly a decade later as if no time has passed for them, and still sound as relevant and commanding as they ever have in light of those times, is something to celebrate. 

    Review by Rob Huff

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