Nobody in the electropop realm has creepier visions than Ladytron. Chalk it up to too much education or the natural morbidity of Eastern Europe. But as much as their melodies are beautiful, their lyrics are about witchcraft and alienation. Even their love songs are creepy. It’s that atmosphere of the faintly twisted that’s kept them at the top of their game for so long, being among the most acclaimed electronic music group of their time.
It amazes me that Ladytron made their debut almost twenty years ago already. Especially since hearing them still makes me think “what is this cool new thing?” Of course, there is music made decades ago that still sounds like the cool new thing nobody’s discovered yet. Ladytron, meanwhile, has very much been discovered. They helped make electronic music cool again. Listening to Ladytron is like getting a lullaby from the world’s most soulful girl robots. If I have to think about the enduring musical legacy of the last 20 years, Ladytron is definitely in the forefront. I’m not going to try to take stock of that just yet, because I think I’m still too young to dedicate myself to nostalgia for my own lived years. But I also think that it’s already clear which works have stood the test of time.
Changing gears to an entirely different mood. Ladytron certainly creates a sustained atmosphere, and it’s a long way from chilling at the seaside. It’s sleek, hypnotic, distinctly continental, reminiscent of long nights specked with glitter and cocaine. If dancing and twitching all night in a faded-velvet upholstered nightclub is your happy place, well then, welcome to your happy place. Ladytron takes their cues straight from the source: European glam-rock, of course. It’s music that reflects a precise moment of inspiration. Original story: the dissident art kid who buys a Roxy Music album on the black market in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Human League never covered any Del Shannon songs. If they had, it might have sounded something like this. This is also, technically, not a cover of Del Shannon’s famous hit; somehow no one has noticed that it has the same hook and Ladytron has been allowed to claim sole songwriting credit. Call it an homage, I guess. But it does make me want to hear Ladytron cover some early-60’s pop songs. I also want to hear Ladytron do a collaboration with Phil Oakey, because if anybody can replicate the sound of Dare for the new millennium it’s Ladytron. Or, you know, I just want Ladytron to make another album. Which they’ve been promising to do, but haven’t done. I would like it to be a 1960’s pop cover album featuring Phil Oakey, but I’ll take whatever they want to give me.
Who knew navigating a department store could sound so cool? While also being a stalker, it sounds like. Ladytron pretty much owns it in the cool Euro-electronica department. And having formed all the way back in 1999, they’re also basically elder statespersons on the scene at this point. Although electronic pop bands have proliferated since 2001, not many have this much suavity and wit. This is like the sexiest, coolest elevator ride ever; that doesn’t sound like something to aspire to, but it’s a compliment. Ladytron are “the best of English pop music” – I didn’t say that, Brian Eno did.
Electronic music for people with functioning brain cells and enjoy speaking in complete sentences! I’m not knocking electronic music, not least because that’s an incredibly broad umbrella term. There’s lot of great stuff out there under that umbrella. But there’s also buttloads of mindless crap that seems intent on hammering you into a coma. It’s mostly the latter type you run across in clubs, sadly enough. Lucky for us we have Ladytron, a band that combines club-ready noise levels with artistic vision and an articulate vocabulary. They make Tennessee Williams references you can dance to.
Warning: this video contains bunnies! Other stuff too, but mostly it’s the bunnies. On a different note, I was excited about a new Ladytron album this year, but I was then disappointed. Thought the new one was a bit slow and boring. This is from Velocifero, released 2008, probably their best album so far. I hope the next one focuses more on an uptempo, dancable mood and OH look, bunnies!!!