Ladytron Light & Magic Review

BBC Review

The result is an angular, utopian soundscape. Ladytron build upon an existing...

Bren O'Callaghan 2002

Ladytron's debut album 604 cut through the lumbering, bloated, chart pap and introspective indie whinging when it was released in late 2001. The harsh, spoken vocals of Bulgarian vixen Mira Aroyo mirrored the emotive lobotomy of Neil Tennant, while her sugarspun double, Helen Marnie, wandered as if trapped within the audio beat-box prison of stylised hand claps, space zaps and synth-jazz of Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu.

The follow up, Light & Magic, draws back the curtains to shed a little light on the many tributaries that float the Ladytron boat. This is a fascinating exercise in music-by-numbers. Only now, as the marketing gimmick that was Electroclash is worn down to a blunt stub, can we fully appreciate where they sit.

Current single "Seventeen" mirrors the catchy and immediate pop sensibilities of their previous singles "Playgirl" and "Paco". It takes the framework of verse-chorus-repeat supported by a thumping, staccato heartbeat. It's a pliable formula that might have come from the back-bedrooms of Glaswegian punk-pop outfit Bis or Air's moonbase hideway. Or, God forbid, it could have been dumbed down by a BPM or two to suit the sample cannibals, Sugababes. Back, back I say!

"Fire" betrays a consistent fondness for some Eastern European fantasy state, a sort of techno-Prussia in which 100ft statues of Kraftwerk look down upon our precocious usurpers. Helen slips into the flayed skin of a new-look leatherette Madonna for an insidious rendition of "Evil". Instrumental tracks are too often used as padding, but the grandiose "Turn It On" filters the very essence of the band's audio beam, splitting it into a divergent sum of parts. The vocoder chorus traces a direct link to core Electro and the likes of Newtrament, while it's but a blob of solder to make a connection with early Hip-Hop stylings.

As the album progresses, so a third dimension of beeps and troughs appears together with haunting commentary and fearsome barked commands. Mira trumps Debbie Harry for dangerously sexy white rap in "Nu Horizons". The result is an angular, utopian soundscape. Ladytron build upon an existing framework to support an entire community of past, present and would-be digital dreamers.

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