Review by Natalie Salvo
By now fans of Ladytron will be well-acquainted with their parallels to Roxy Music. The English quartet were named after the latter’s song; two members once posed as Roxy-like pinups for their remix album “Softcore Jukebox”; and there are certainly elements of the glam pop sound permeating their music. But while the group had previously aligned aspects of themselves with the latter’s frontman, Bryan Ferry, on album number five, “Gravity The Seducer” they seem to be taking a leaf out of his former bandmate’s book (and later solo work), i.e. Brian Eno and his famed atmospherics.
This LP is the group’s self-described baroque n’ roll record with Daniel Hunt (synthesisers, guitars, vocals) claiming it is their most coherent and perfect piece of work to date. He says: “People will always want you to change completely or repeat over and over. But we are at the point where we don’t really have to make any concessions to what people think we should be”. It seems Hunt and co. are taking inspiration from both these areas on board with this release.
The group’s previous album, “Velocifero” was all about big hooks and catchy pop songs. It was something that was found in the group’s early material when synth was almost a dirty word because the instrument of choice for most artists was the guitar. These guys were the vanguards to the now omnipresent electro pop genre and while the music offered here hints at aspects of the old, it is also far more elaborate and cinematic; basically less New Order and more Portishead and Depeche Mode.
“Gravity The Seducer” features twelve songs or 48 minutes worth of cerebral sonic wizardry with nary a “radio-friendly” single or pop hook in sight. Instead, it’s like one long trip or stream of conscious-style piece of art like a Jack Kerouac novel or The Doors doing peyote or some other such hallucinogenic on a spirit walk in the desert. As such, there is no clear stand-out or revelatory moment; at best it is cool, dramatic and pithy while at its worse it can seem distant, forgettable and overblown.
Though recorded in the countryside in Kent, England, the whole thing conjures up images of a dream; such is the abstract imagery and vague signposts to the galaxy. The vocals are again icy and detached (and verge on the sinister) but occasionally these are lost in a sea (well three to be exact) of instrumentals that are equally epic, cryptic and bittersweet.
In short, “Gravity the Seducer” is all about a band wanting to again push the envelope when it comes to sounds. There will be some fans who will embrace this musical equivalent to drawing a maze and getting lost in it. But of course there will be others that will find the fluid vagueness stifling and will ache for the structure of the three minute pop song, pure and simple.
Review by Natalie Salvo
* All articles by Natalie Salvo…