LADYTRON: Velocifero [Nettwerk]

Ladytron’s default mode is steadfast retroism. When the Liverpool band isn’t playing synth pop, it’s shoegazing. On fourth album Velocifero, the quartet’s love affair with walls of noise grows so much that most of the dance grooves are subliminal at this point. With Nine Inch Nails cohort Alessandro Cortini as producer, the band’s reference points have never sounded more specific. The vintage-synth stuff is more early Ministry than New Order, and the rock tracks are more Dog Man Star-era Suede than My Bloody Valentine. Despite the torrential sound quality, there’s no mistaking the songwriting craft that’s always set Ladytron apart from its plastic contemporaries, and the melodies here might be the band’s strongest yet. Velocifero is a mere knob’s turn toward the excellence the band still seems to be working toward. Does the sharpening (and, more often, fuzzing-out) of sound count as growth? Maybe. With no real frothy disco hit (a la 2002’s “Seventeen”) in sight, Ladytron has at least shed its association with the electroclash movement that launched it. Regarding progress, that’s something. [www.nettwerk.com]

—Rich Juzwiak

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