LADYTRON earned a decade’s worth of acclaim by relentlessly pushing boundaries, carving out new sonic and conceptual space and refusing to abide any formula or trend.
So it’s testimony to their craft to say that Gravity The Seducer, the fifth album from the electro-pop provocateurs, is vintage Ladytron — because, like each of the four preceding albums, it’s not quite like anything the quartet has done before.
Gravity The Seducer (out Sept. 12 in the UK and Sept. 13 in the US) comes on the heels of March’s career-spanning retrospective, Best Of Ladytron: 00-10 and represents a remarkable evolution in the evocative yet precise pop fashioned by Daniel Hunt and bandmates Reuben Wu, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo.
The new album finds the foursome framing the indelible vocal melodies of twin sirens Aroyo and Marnie with painterly soundscapes that shape-shift like cloud formations above the narratives’ stark, vivid imagery. Hunt jokingly calls this metamorphosis of Ladytron’s sound “baroque ’n’ roll,” but whatever the term, it’s dreamy.
Gravity The Seducer has emerged as the quartet’s most cinematic work to date. “There is a strong lyrical thread of playful illusionary imagery of dreamlike scenarios and surreal landscapes that runs through the new album,” Aroyo says. “I think it’s our most coherent, in terms of moods and themes”
But that wasn’t necessarily the intent when Ladytron convened in the Kent countryside during the summer of 2010 to record the album with co-producer Barny Barnicott, who worked on Ladytron’s own Witching Hour.
“When we began there was quite a bit of mischief involved, but often the things that start that way end as defining moments,” Hunt says.
That sensibility is embodied by the first track (and lead single) “White Elephant,” a bouquet of keys, harpsichord and strings that features Marnie’s satiny vocals. “In a way, it’s the seed of the record,” Hunt says. And, grouped with the ensuing songs, the insistent, catchy “Mirage” and the ethereal, foreboding “White Gold,” it speaks to Gravity The Seducer’s most formidable quality: a work whose sonic strata match its layers of meaning.
There is a dramatic arc that holds the album together – musically, lyrically and thematically. “Scenes that are set up in ‘Mirage’ return and reflect in ‘Melting Ice.’ A few of the songs, such as ‘Moon Palace,’ takes the listener on a Lynchean journey, where as ‘Ambulances’ takes us into darker waters,” says Aroyo.
The album’s title comes from a track later in the album, “90 Degrees,” another of Gravity The Seducer’s defining moments, a desert-sky hallucination.