Ladytron‘s fifth studio album Gravity The Seducer opens with ‘White Elephant’, a twinkling shoe-gazing epic with traces of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and, as the record’s title suggests, an alluring magnetism. It’s like an electronically-generated twee pop song that sends out little space-age signals of happiness. And it sets the tone for the Liverpool quartet’s most mature work to date.
Effortlessly followed by ‘Mirage’, which is traditional Ladytron albeit without the punch of the anthemic ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ and the aloofness of ‘Seventeen’. It is no less catchy, but ever-so-slightly monotonous with its repetitive refrains of “holding hands we’re in the mirage”. Gravity The Seducer continues with ‘White Gold’ – alternatively simpering and soaring synth, and ‘Altitude Blues’ – a science fiction soundtrack with both Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo softly cat calling vocals over tumbling electro arpeggios. The only hint of a dull moment is ‘Ambulances’ which drags the middle of the album to a halt. But this is a blip. ‘Transparent Days’ is like the Ladytron version of a Christmas song with swirling blizzard of synth verb and demi-jangle of tambourine and triangles, building to a cool crescendo. It’s vocal-less – along with ‘Ritual’ and the slightly superfluous ‘Aces High’, an interlude-esque instrumental reprise of ‘Aces of Hz’ – which adds to Gravity The Seducer‘s grandiose feeling. There’s a confidence in the multi-layered synths that perhaps wasn’t there on the previous four Ladytron records and the difference between the band who sang ‘Discotraxx’ is most obvious here.
This album lacks the catchiness of Velocifero‘s ‘Ghosts’ and the majestic toe-tapping of Witching Hour‘s ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’. It is also missing the raw quirkiness of early cult hits such as Light and Magic’s ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Blue Jeans’. There is neither of the drum machine pulse of ‘International Dateline’ nor the indie-electro clash of ‘Sugar’ and 604′s ‘Discotraxx’. ‘Ritual’ is as close to thrashing synth pogo-ing as you’ll get here. But despite this Gravity The Seducer is every inch a Ladytron record and a very good one at that. It’s another smoother, more refined step on the band’s now considerable career. It’s cooler, calmer and more calculated. And hypnotically seductive as the gravity of its title.