Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ladytron / The Witching Hour / Rating 8.3

keyboard basslines and polygonal haircuts are a gateway drug to dumb press


This record has been out for months, PFM reviewed it back in October yet here it is nearly December and I am still tripping over my words and wondering how I really feel about Witching Hour.

My notes from the first few passes at the record looked something like this:

Stop the college rock presses.
Melancholy gang of robots dubbed Ladytron cannibalized by effects rack!!!
Synth being held for questioning and may be an accomplice to crime.

Not only was I disappointed with the production but then the songs themselves. Here was a line from my notes round two:

Chipettes cover Lush, MBV, The Faint, Love and Rockets, J and M Chain, and Yazoo.

Then there was message I left to myself on my cell phone because I couldn’t find a pen.

1 part bat cave dorm room 1 part NJ shore boardwalk

And lastly there was this:

A perfect cruising soundtrack for cool kids with pimped out eco-friendly cars

Here are a few segments of a review I tried to write for Witching Hour back in late October:

PFM says: "If they lacked the horsepower before...The Witching Hour is the most urgent and immediate of their career. The earlier records were sort of toylike and plastic; this not only has a pulse, it has chilled blood in its veins."

Let it be known I hate blanket statements like"this is the most urgent and immediate" blah blah blah when attached to anything.

PFM says: "Every quantum leap record has a quantum leap single, and in this case, it's "Destroy Everything You Touch". With a charging chorus and shivery production that sounds as equally indebted to shoegaze as it does synthpop, this is probably the most confident and menacing thing they've ever done to date... And, for better or worse, the barely concealed cocaine metaphor of "Sugar" ("If I get the sugar, will you get me/ Something elusive and temporary") proves they could go there if they wanted to."

I liked the TV show Quantum Leap as a kid but I still don't like blanket statements like "most confident and menacing thing _____ have ever done to date"

PFM says: "That's as good an illustration as any of how far they've come in these last three years: if Ladytron of old was a truckful of ice, this one's a winter storm, bundled up people and all."

Here is some fun with google:
Results 1 - 10 of about 350 for glacial ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 50,700 for ladytron + chill
Results 1 - 10 of about 114,000 for winter + ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 139,000 for ice + ladytron
Results 1 - 10 of about 154,000 for ladytron + snow

Here is a quote from the Ladytron website summing up their new record: "This is a collection of songs that will cool you down in the summer and keep you warm in those dark winter months."

Deja vu.

I met up with a friend for drinks a few days ago and he practically purrrrred at the mention of Ladytron’s new record.

He heard a few tracks on line and fell in love with a band he normally didn’t think much of. This comrade in beer runs a local recording studio, sweats all that is MBV inspired, and to his ears Ladytron has entered the winner’s circle of stunning production.

Okay fine...but the songs themselves, the music hiding behind all that gloss and sheen, do they belong in the winners circle?

I told him not to buy the record because I will give him my copy but before I hand it over I am giving these song one last once over. Fast forward to the day before Thanksgiving and here I am back at my computer, listening to the record for the millionth time and still not loving it but hating it less and less.

I don’t care how many studio tricks were used to make this record have all the proper bells and whistles of a classic like Loveless but if Ladytron’s songs are placed side by side next to the best shoegazer hits they aren’t quite tall enough to ride the big boy/girl talent wave. They are in their teenage years of complex songwriting but considering how many years Ladytron already has behind them (7) they are behind the creative curve. Repetition no matter how clever and catchy the melody is reflects a verse chorus verse chorus pattern that is stagnant rather than a trademark to be remembered by.

Witching Hour should have been THE RECORD for Ladytron and instead it sizes up to decent hour worthy of a spooky 6.66 rating.

(The record registers in at exactly 60.00 minutes but track 14 is 9.03 minutes of nothing so the Witching Hour is actually 51+ minutes. Busted)