The last time I wrote about Ladytron was way back in 2011, when I reviewed Gravity The Seducer. Back then, it seemed as if the band had been away for ages when it had only been three years. This time around, it's legitimately been a long time. With Ladytron dropping on Friday, we're seeing the first new Ladytron record in more than seven years. That the band still, even after so many years, manages to churn up a magnificently-evocatve brand of electronica is something that should be praised.
Opener "Until The Fire" is all bright and shiny surfaces, while the poppy "This Island" sees the band blend their styles successfully for something that sounds a whole lot like the best material from early in the career of O.M.D. The vocals this time out are more modulated. If the icy grace of earlier releases has been tempered, Helen Marnie and Mira Arroyo have offered a more expressive set of vocal performances here on this record, with "The Animals" and "Far From Home", for instance, nearly warm. At their best here on Ladytron, the players -- Mira, Helen, Daniel Hunt, and Reuben Wu -- seem more in command of the textures, the keyboard figures more supple and inviting. "Figurine", for instance, is just this side of a Lady Gaga number, while "The Mountain" is a revelation, and one that showcases this group's knack for creating and inhabiting a sonic landscape that, while in debt to past pioneers of New Wave, remains something decidedly current.
Ladytron have on Ladytron entered the sort of territory that Gary Numan once mapped out. Much as he did on Telekon, Ladytron have found a way to meld electro-pop of the sort that feels almost robotic with something human and subtly affecting. The vocals here are the key, with Ladytron finally sounding, if not just magisterial, at least a tiny bit vulnerable.
Ladytron by Ladytron is out on Friday via Pledge Music.
[Photo: uncredited promotional picture]