Ladytron, Witching Hour

Nitsuh Abebe

By Nitsuh Abebe

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Witching Hour

We play this Futurist electro-pop on long rides down empty autobahns

Ladytron's first two albums never really broke as far outside their own circle (electro fans and synth-pop afficionados) as some people may have expected — a middling result, for a band that aimed to be as emotionally affecting as it was stylish. (Forget electro: isn't this band shooting for the same teenage-bedroom passion as the Smiths or the Cure?) The Witching Hour, thankfully, stands every chance of getting further. The group's icy English singles sound more assured and passionate than ever, with "Destroy Everything You Touch" making one of the best cases for electronic pop drama since Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence." The production is deeper, dreamier and more welcoming, an impressive leap from the straight lines and cold edges of the band's earliest tracks. And, best of all, the band's range of interests has expanded wildly: where an album like 604 could feel like a full-length blow-up of a single verse from a Human League song, The Witching Hour toys with elements of Krautrock ("High Rise"), Slowdive-style dream-pop ("All the Way"), the Jesus & Mary Chain ("Sugar") and even a brief flash of Boards of Canada. For most bands, "expanded influences" just means flailing around, but the results here hang together every bit as beautifully as previous LPs — only with a sense of depth and gravity that's largely new. And given the sheer dreamy accessibility of Helen Marnie's crisp voice and bell-clear melodies, that depth is all it takes to leave this group sounding — finally — perfect.