Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gravity the Seducer - Ladytron (SCQ's Autumn Records 2011)

Gravity the Seducer

Nettwerk Records.

SCQ Rating: 76%

Ladytron provoked a collective balk from just about everyone earlier this year when they released Best Of 00 – 10, not because their catalog didn’t warrant a retrospective but that such a compilation actually extended, yeah, ten years. Perhaps the idea of Ladytron nurturing a legacy never dawned on most of us because their breed of noir electro-pop always clung to the brittle edge of fashion, a cult-ready notion of cool dependent on sleek wardrobe choices and a disaffection bordering on robotic. It wasn’t until 2005’s Witching Hour that the English quartet’s songwriting caught up to their visual sensibilities but, then and now, Ladytron have always existed in their own bubble; impervious to destruction but perpetually floating a great distance from any given year’s movers and shakers.

As the first LP separating their first decade from a new one, Gravity the Seducer – bearing perhaps the most Ladytron-esque title to date – immediately shifts gears from the propulsive dynamics of Witching Hour and Velocifero for a dreamier, layered approach. ‘White Elephant’ still contains a foundation of synthetic bass and drum-machine effects but its hooks rely on soaring string and horn orchestration, a flight of fancy that contributes to Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo’s vocals sounding less devious, more ABBA. Subsequent tracks such as ‘Mirage’ and ‘Ritual’ reclaim the band’s drive without abandoning their newfound love of cosmetic spaciousness, allowing the majority of the disc to unfurl as a slow-motion swan-dive into an erratic but no less beautiful daydream.

Gravity the Seducer creates such an ear-pleasing, if suspiciously surface, universe that the rare stumble merely demonstrates further how Ladytron cannot pierce their consistency bubble. It isn’t difficult to find something of worth in lightweight tunes like ‘Altitude Blues’ or the instrumental ‘Transparent Days’, but they don’t sink their talons into listeners either. That counters top tracks ’90 Degrees’ and ‘White Gold’, which score points for fitting the typical Ladytron energy bursts into evocative aural expanses. Carrying on where the last decade left off, Gravity the Seducer nonetheless works best when you meet Ladytron half-way.

Ladytron - White Elephant by nettwerkmusicgroup

No comments: