Stop what you’re doing – Ladytron has a new record out. It’s called “Velocifero” and honestly, you should probably just skip the rest of this and go buy it right now. It’ll save you time in the long run.
Of course, you might want to take everything in this article with a shaker of salt, considering its presentation is composed by an unrepentant Ladytron fanboy who followed them down the coast on the “Witching Hour” tour two years ago, seeing them twice in as many days. (There’s a fine line between shame and pride.)
This record is the logical extension of “Witching Hour” in that it moves even further away from the limits of the pristine electro-pop template that once made up the confines of the band’s musical rut. Whereas early 2000’s Ladytron was sparse, antiseptic and circular, the tracks of “Velocifero” are dense with instrumentation that might shock you. Besides the “flavor of the day” arrangements (buzzy, abrasive electronics), be on the lookout for acoustic guitar, brass horns and male vocals (obviously these things are only shocking in the context of Ladytron). To get the full experience and pick everything out, you’ll need to listen at volume levels that are somewhat likely to damage your hearing on speakers that are at least reasonably non-crappy (diligent “hipster bullshit” readers should know this by now).
The ambassador of the album (the first single and by far the poppiest song) is “Ghosts,” which is hooky as all hell and features a chorus reminiscent of the before and after puzzles in “Wheel of Fortune”: “There’s a ghost inside me / who wants to say I’m sorry / doesn’t mean I’m sorry.” Helen Marnie’s vocals are prominent and easily discernable on the mix, which is the exception to the rule on “Velocifero.”
Whereas vocals on the single sit firmly on top of the mix (like a Pine-Sol-scented church bench), most of the album allows the vox to sink in and meld with the dingy chaos below it (like that filthy bean bag chair on your patio). Listen to “Kletva” to see how great this can sound; Mira Aroyo’s voice is incredible even though I understand not a single word over the panoramic noise (the fact that she sings in Bulgarian might have something to do with this as well). Lead track “Black Cat” is also in Aroyo’s native tongue and also a standout.
Really, most of the songs on “Velocifero” deserve to be talked about in depth, but I’ll sum this up by saying that a solid record like this should be no surprise at this point. Ladytron is a band we can safely classify as established and mature. Perhaps it bears mentioning that, as of this year, female vocalists Marnie and Aroyo find themselves in their thirties (and thus their sexual prime). It should then only be expected that the band can seduce us with the confidence and accuracy of a prowling cougar.
Jesse Bo Widmark is an architectural engineering senior and a business director for KCPR, San Luis Obispo, 91.3 FM.