Unlike Daft Punk’s Human After All, the title of which turned out purposely misleading, Ladytron’s latest record is definitely more human than their previous works.
This time, vintage keyboards share the stage with “real” instruments (guitar, bass, drums). Whether they wanted to loose their tidings to electroclash (which has recently become too popular for the tastes of many) or simply explore new soundscapes, the change is radical for a band which represented the quintessence of instrumental electronica. But let’s not dwell on technicalities.
In practice, the result sounds a lot more like electro-pop-rock than electroclash. Less minimalistic and cold; heavier and darker. That evolution is reflected visually in their new live shows: they swapped their Atari outfits for long black clothes and dresses, changed their robot-like haircuts. Overall, they now look more like dark sorcerers than electronic technicians.
All songs share a gloomy atmosphere, both oppressing and beautiful. The girls’ voices are more mysterious than ever, as if singing for the first time, finally freed from the control of the machines. The Ladytron touch is still clearly audible, but instead of crafting meticulous sound jewels, they used it to build grand dark constructions: a timeless haunted mansion (Soft Power), a threatening interrogatory in hell (Sugar) or a sad fairy lament (All The Way). By opening their music to more than just machines, they contaminated it with a very precious novelty: feelings.
In spite of that, the record might not live up to the minimalistic perfection of 604 or Light & Magic, but the evolution is welcome and it cannot be argued that Ladytron pulled off an attractive piece of electronic wizardry, haunting and beautiful. Quite unique, too.