While many of their peers have faded out as churlishly as their synths, the English electro-pop band Ladytron thrives by following their flair for shrewd hooks. Theirs are the sort of melodies that feel instinctual, that transform initially simple refrains into mantras of efficient urgency; it is the tactic that made their contemplative third album, 2005′s The Witching Hour, the flint that sparked a mass reevaluation of their peculiar alchemy of dance and shoegaze music.
The Liverpool group’s fifth album, Gravity the Seducer, shares that emotional distillation, but adds a pensive elegance. It sprawls out more glibly than past efforts, in full deference to those recessive new-wave genes, blending broad synths and scratchy strings to surprising cohesion. The mood is a bit more somber this time around, but not bleak: The standout “White Gold” slinks along terse, clamoring synths and a tinny ’80s drumbeat, singer Mira Aroyo glum but accepting, deploying ghostly wails to sing about “the power of deception.” “Ace of Hz” (the “Hz” is pronounced “hearts,” though a more onomatopoeic hissing sound also trembles eerily among the keyboards) is a fully-devoted ’80s pop jam, woozy and clinically detached — a John Hughes soundtrack if the wizened goth kids had inherited the earth.