Ladytron - Light & Magic

By liz

(Emperor Norton - US Release 19 Sept. 02)

I'm drawn to music that sounds like I could do it myself, with the help of a techno-geek friend and some software. There is something very hands on, totally accomplishable within the new Ladytron album, 'Light & Magic'. Yet the talent and skill needed to create such an overall diverse and consistently refreshing album are definitely not easily recreated by just anyone with a mac. There's more to this album than Ladytron boasted with their 2000 release '604.' The sounds are similar, yet the band has taken it to a higher plane.

Electronica to me is all about ambiance. With Ladytron's first album '604', I was transported to a dilapidated Berlin side street, standing drenched in the rain in front of a dreary discotheque. 'Light & Magic' seems to draw out Pacific sunshine from somewhere high in the Hollywood Hills. We are now focused on the mid-century architectural Hollywood of old. This isn't glam, it's the seedy side of glamorous. Creating an industrial pop atmosphere out of analog beats and dreamy programming is not easily accomplished, yet 'Light & Magic' handles it well and manages to comes off as polished and totally accessible.

Out of the 15 tracks, 'Seventeen' has to be the closest thing on the album to the Ladytron of old. It is the song that will bring you back to the glorious sounds of 'He Took Her to a Movie' and 'Playgirl'. Quite enamored with the dirge of underage models, Helen and Mira's raspy vocals would only egg on the dirty old man turned on by the sexually dysfunctional lyrics. "He only wants you when you're 17, when you're 21, you're no fun." This song could be Lolitapop's take on the Lolita- complex as a whole.

I could drop in the references here about 'oh this sounds a bit like Blondie', 'that sounds a bit Chicago house', 'this is clearly their nod to Ian Curtis', but why bother? Ladytron has always recycled their influences, so whom does it hurt that they wear their references proudly? Overall they've created a solid and varied album that could help the tag of 'electroclash' break out of the clich├ęd ambivalence it gets from the indie rock scene.

Look a Ladytron US tour in Nov. 2002.