Ladytron

Light & Magic (Emperor Norton)

Ladytron makes music simultaneously from decades past and decades yet to come. Their layered beats and hovercraft grooves suggest the morning radio of an anonymous metropolis circa A.D. 2804 or the most forward-looking synth-pop of 1982. Which brings us to some place in the middle of that continuum: The group's official bio proudly declares that with the release of last year's 604, Ladytron brought itself to the very forefront of the burgeoning "electroclash/nü-electro/synthcore" movement; what's wrong with just calling it new New Wave? The sound on Light & Magic is surprisingly lush considering the group's essentially emotionless, assembly-line approach to pop. From the sinister pulse of "Fire" to the chic stream of Euro-babble (evidently Bulgarian) that propels "Nuhorizons," Ladytron never strays far from its thesis of stylized detachment. As a result, and despite all their raw electro-cheese retro appeal, a handful of Ladytron's refrains are maddeningly repetitive, not to mention paper-thin. "Seventeen" doubles as an official ingratiator: "They only want you when you're 17/When you're 21 you're no fun," they tell us over and over. And over. The rest of Light & Magic, however, is not all as vacuous as it might appear. The eerie churn of "Cracked LCD" and the robo-rock of "Blue Jeans" sneakily suggest the frailty, and fallibility, of the technological materialism the rest of the album seems to revel in. It should at least keep them at the forefront of that "electroclash/nü-electro/synthcore" movement.

 
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