Ladytron: Gravity The Seducer

Ten years into their synth-poppy career, Ladytron's music is still frigid and shows no signs of thawing.


Gravity The Seducer

Label: Nettwerk
US Release Date: 2011-09-13
UK Release Date: 2011-09-12

Gravity The Seducer, Ladytron’s fifth studio album, comes on the heels of a career-spanning, Best Of compilation spanning the English synth-pop group’s decade-long career. Although they had no traditional hits (At least in the UK, "Destroy Everything You Touch" came the closest), a career strong enough to warrant such a record is an accomplishment in itself. They’ve endured the "electroclash" and "bloghouse" phases and have persevered alongside plenty of flash-in-the-pan contemporaries. With this in mind, Gravity could have been approached as more of a victory lap than anything else.

Thankfully, it wasn’t. Though not the quartet’s strongest work, the new album sounds inspired, investigative, and most importantly, confident. Gravity The Seducer finds its place as Ladytron’s most hypnotic record to date -- one that has no resident bangers, yet doesn’t seem to care. Instead, it invites you to drift away in its blankets of icy synth and slabs of mechanized percussion. It’s something that every Ladytron record to date has done, yet perhaps not with such persistence. Forget chillwave, this is downright frigid.

Opener "White Elephant" sets the tone completely, offering an intricate, lockstep beat for frontwoman Helen Marnie to drape her trance-like vocals over. The harpsichord-like bit that comes in later only ups the ante, announcing yet another subtle modification to Ladytron’s sound. It sounds almost like a precursor to single "Ace of Hz," the closest the band sails to true pop territory this time around. The track debuted on Ladytron’s Best Of, and although it could have stood alone as an insular single, it does sound at home among Gravity’s early going. Despite sounding somewhat direct compared to much of the album’s darker recesses, its echo-filled chorus and calculated rhythm fit the bill.

"Moon Palace" sounds, well, exactly like its title would suggest. Its dreary landscapes are covered by not one, but two frigid female vocalists -- as usual leader Helen Marnie gives way to Mira Aroyo for most of the song. Hailing from the same school of detached female vocalists, the two don’t offer much diversification, but for adding an extra layer of frost, well, you can imagine the effect.

Content to exist within its own ice storm, Gravity is rather predictable, even for a band who’ve tried many of these same tricks before. Still, Ladytron makes a genuine effort to assure the album is challenging in a musical sense. "Ritual" and "Transparent Days" hold their own as instrumental presences, though it must have been difficult for the band to resist adding vocals to the former, which is particularly pummeling. And closer "Aces High" is a nifty little reprise of "Az of Hearts", both wrapping up matters and lending credence to its point of reference as the album’s centerpiece.

Regardless of how long the band trudges on, 2005’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” will likely endure as Ladytron’s strongest statement. As such a convincing example of what they can do when they set their sights on the dancefloor, it’d be easy to cast them off for an effort as brooding as Gravity. But being the survivors they are, the Liverpool band once again proves there’s more to Ladytron than meets the eye.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.