Ladytron The Witching Hour

[Rykodisc; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: synth-pop…and, if you must, electroclash
Others: New Order, M83, The Juan MacLean

Synth-pop. I know there are new, more modern terms, like electroclash, but synth-pop is what a band like Ladytron sounds like to me. While the term itself may have once been pejorative and Ladytron haven't been pure pop, I still think it works. To illustrate my narrow definition, the definitive synth-pop track is New Order's "True Faith'" A sort of testament to all that New Order could do, it's a standard they have never really been able to match since. Armed with an M83-like bunker full of synth sounds, Ladytron has picked up where "True Faith" left off and set out to make the perfect synth-pop album.

As opposed to their prior albums, they really earn the designation of pop this time through. They bring the hooks on every single track, and nearly every one is a potential single. Gone, however, are the '60s throwbacks of "Blue Jeans" and "Paco!"; instead we get the minor key melodrama of equally catchy songs like "Sugar" and "International Dateline'" The darker tone, however, is absolutely crucial to the album's success, never allowing things to cross over into saccharine territory.

Though style has always gone a long way for Ladytron, they have now overcome their occasional tendency to let it overcome substance. The most notable advance of The Witching Hour is Ladytron's firmer use of the density that their synth-y sound allows for. Deemphasizing beats a bit, instead creating an impossibly lush palette of sounds on every track, it is easy to return time and again to these songs that offer new nuance upon each listen. The standouts are too numerous to mention, and all in all, Ladytron have set a new peak, getting to the heart of their best previous moments and expanding on them.

1. High Rise
2. Destroy Everything You Touch
3. International Dateline
4. Soft Power
7. Sugar
8. Fighting in Built Up Areas
9. The Last One Standing
10. Weekend
11. Beauty*2
12. White Light Generator
13. All The Way

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