I’m going to be honest. Three years ago if you asked me what Ladytron was, I would have giggled and asked, “What is that, Optimus Prime’s wife? Transformers must have really jumped the shark.” Now in present day, I’d be embarrassed by making that comparison, because if Ladytron was in an episode of Transformers, they probably would have taken the place of Soundwave and would have made human interactions a lot more explicit, destroying the concept of Saturday morning cartoons and having parents and the FCC up in arms. Well, maybe that is a cool comparison, but it’s not what Ladytron is.
Ladytron, the Liverpool-built electronica quartet, first stumbled into my life this past year with Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero remixes. I heard the remix of The Beginning of the End, and did something I rarely do. I looked on the insert to see who mixed it, and was introduced to the mesmerizing group that is Ladytron.
I then searched the band out, coming across the songs Destroy Everything You Touch and International Dateline. Their musical blending and the light vs. stoic harmonies of Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo hooked me instantly. I needed to get an album. Upon learning these two songs were on the same album, Witching Hour, I decided that would be my tester. Hey, I already liked two of the songs, so the percentage to enjoy more of that album was quite high. I was not disappointed.
The band consists of a Kraftwerk-like construction, minus two voices. Helen Marnie, Daniel Hunt, Mira Aroyo, and Reuben Wu all perform various expanses of a set tempo, much like generic synth-pop, but the similarities end there. They are much more experimental with a gothic touch, but not too experimental as to alienate listeners that aren’t of the scenester persuasion. The style changes through-out the album from fast, hard-hitting pieces such as High Rise to such ambient pieces as All The Way. Although I cannot tell for certain who wrote each piece within the band (All The Way seems to have leanings towards Twin Peaks soundscape band headed by Julee Cruise while such songs as Sugar lean towards Shirley Manson’s Garbage), the similarities don’t go as far as a copy-cat status, but are more like homages to their influences. I thought I even heard hints of VNV Nation strewn through-out the album.
The music (and I’m sure a live show) of Ladytron’s Witching Hour is eclectic in its approach. At some points you could be grooving out at The Batcave in New York or London, other times on a full-blown dance-floor with DJ Sasha up next. The variety works, because with that mixture of song types, you are suckered into following the voices of Marnie and Aroyo, the ties that bind it all. Trust me, it’s a good suckering.
I give this album 4 out of 5 pairs of leather platform boots. Hopefully I can get to a show, and find their latest album, Velocifero, for review as well. From there, I’ll back-track.