Every Ladytron album is like a snowflake. Each takes on a unique shape and brings a distinctive chill to the air, or in this case, ears. The icy detachment of Helena Marnie and Mira Aroyo started to show signs of thawing out with the epic shoegazing splendor of 2005â€šÃ„Ã´s Witching Hour. Be prepared to take cover if you hope to weather the stormy follow-up, Velocifero. That winning, Witching Wall of Sound has thickened into a dark, impenetrable fog. The clouds start rolling in with monolithic opener â€šÃ„ÃºBlack Cat.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Death-march percussion and buzzing synth lines emphasize how touring with Nine Inch Nails has influenced the group, as has production help from Nailâ€šÃ„Ã´s own Alessandro Cortini. The problem is that this heavier sound doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t always suit them. The bludgeoning â€šÃ„ÃºIâ€šÃ„Ã´m Not Scaredâ€šÃ„Ã¹ tries to blister but can only bluster with a redundant drum pattern and drowned-out vocals. The fact is that Ladytron are far too streamlined and calculated to pull off a full-frontal sonic assault. â€šÃ„ÃºRunawayâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a far prettier hate machine, with pulverizing beats rendered hypnotic by Marnieâ€šÃ„Ã´s sweetly sinister repetition of the chorus.
ame They fare much better when they tone things down and stick to more natural influences. â€šÃ„ÃºGhostâ€šÃ„Ã¹ has a glammy swagger thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s equally haunted by latter-day Depeche Mode and Chk Chk Chk. â€šÃ„ÃºSeason of Illusionsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ includes one of Aroyoâ€šÃ„Ã´s best vocals and reaches even further back to the days of an Arab-killing Cure. Meanwhile, â€šÃ„ÃºPredict the Dayâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a Knife-worthy silent shout whose ominous whistles eventually give way to a screaming crescendo of New Order guitar jabs. There are even nods to their finest Hour via the swooning â€šÃ„ÃºTomorrowâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and synth-riddled â€šÃ„ÃºBurning Up.â€šÃ„Ã¹
ame If not for these beacons of melodic inspiration, it would be easy to lose oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s way in Velociferoâ€šÃ„Ã´s blizzard, and even easier to lose oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s patience, especially amidst forced lyrics that canâ€šÃ„Ã´t match the menace — â€šÃ„Ãº Like kittens versus rainâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is particularly groan-inducing on the final track. Nevertheless, those brave enough to follow Ladytron should still find plenty of treasures buried in this snow, however thick it has gotten.