Ladytron on Their Self-Titled Album - The Seven Year Itch | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Ladytron on Their Self-Titled Album

The Seven Year Itch

May 20, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
Bookmark and Share


Ladytron are one of the most innovative bands of the 21st Century. Formed in Liverpool back in 1999 by Helen Marnie, Mira Aroyo, Reuben Wu, and Daniel Hunt and bonded by a love of experimental electronic music and pop, the four-piece released their debut album, 604, two years later after a batch of critically acclaimed singles and EPs. Four more albums followed over the next decade culminating in 2011's Gravity the Seducer. Since then, each of the four band members has been involved with other projects. So it's fitting they've chosen Ladytron's 20th anniversary as a band to put out their first new record in eight years. 

Consisting of 13 songs in total, Ladytron marks a distinct change from its predecessor. Whereas Gravity the Seducer was more laidback and sedate, the new album is much more direct in its approach. It's a record that announces the band's return with specific intent. A record that's as definitive as anything Ladytron have released beforehand. Marnie takes up the story.

"About two years ago we all came to the decision that we'd start writing together again for Ladytron," she says. "We never wanted it to be so long between our last album and now. It wasn't really meant to happen that way. We were just going to take a couple of years out. But then things got in the way.... Even when we did get back together it was really difficult because we were all doing different things. I was doing my solo album so I wanted to put all my effort into that but at the same time, also had to think about Ladytron. It was the same for the other members. They were all doing different things as well. It wasn't a case of, this is the moment everyone's free. It was more a case of, let's make the time to do this. So that's what we did."

Before long, the first fruit of their labors emerged in the shape of "The Animals." Released in February of last year as the lead single off the album, it represents one of the most immediate numbers in Ladytron's entire discography and before long, "Run" followed. By the end of 2017 they had the foundations for an album in place, although even at that point it was still anyone's guess how the finished product would sound.

"There was no plan as such," says Marnie. "I think there are glimpses of early Ladytron but mainly it's more of a progression from the last record. It's never intentional. It's just what we do. We don't create an album with the intention of it sounding like Ladytron circa 2006. It's more about where we're at as musicians and writers. What's in our head comes naturally. It became evident as we were writing that this album would be a lot different to the two before it. Gravity the Seducer was quite spacious whereas this is a bit more in people's faces. It's very danceable, for me anyway. It makes me want to move and maybe shout a bit as well."

Ladytron was initially announced (accompanied by "The Animals") back in February 2018 via PledgeMusic, which has become increasingly more popular for bands when launching album campaigns. Not only as a way of generating finance but also by offering fans and beneficiaries the opportunity to become part of the actual process. It's that personal approach which convinced Marnie PledgeMusic was the right way to go about announcing their return. (Although since our interview with Ladytron, the platform has run into financial trouble, filing for bankruptcy and not paying all artists the money they were owed.)

"We're all involved as well so we know what's going on," she says. "We know who's got what. You get familiar with people's names and answering their questions. That is the future of music. People want to be involved in the process. How the record was made or just be the first to hear it. So it became the only option for us really. I'd done it before for a solo record so I knew what to expect, albeit on a smaller scale. Whereas Ladytron would be huge in comparison and a lot of work, which we knew before it started. For us it was also a way of having control. It was our first release for seven years and things have changed since then. So how do we do this? How do we introduce ourselves back into the realm of everything? PledgeMusic seemed the best way to do it rather than get a label involved from the start. It also meant we could take any direction we wanted without being under any pressure." 

Marnie makes a valid point. Despite seven years not seeming a long time in the grand scheme of things, the musical landscape has shifted dramatically. When their last album came out in September 2011, Lady Gaga's Born This Way was on course to become the biggest selling record of that year and Amy Winehouse had sadly passed away just a few weeks earlier. Was it a concern Ladytron might have been forgotten about in the interim period?

"No, not really," says Marnie quite matter-of-factly. "We've got such a loyal fanbase. They're pretty extremein a good way. Almost like a cult, and I love that. They haven't left us. Instead they've stuck with us the whole way through, which I kind of knew from my solo project because all the Ladytron fans supported that. So it wasn't really a worry to us. Obviously the music industry works a lot differently to how it did seven years ago. It's a completely different ball game altogether from when we started, but we believed in our fans and they've come through. So it's good."   

Far from their humble beginnings in Liverpool, all four members of Ladytron are based in different parts of the world these days. Aroyo lives in London, Hunt is based in Brazil, Wu now resides in Chicago, while Marnie is back in her native Glasgow. Not that this creates a problem when it comes to writing and recording.

"It is challenging but I don't think it's really hindered us. It hasn't changed that much for us at all. Danny's always moved around. Years ago he was living in Milan then Paris so it doesn't make a difference that he's now living in Brazil. Same with Reuben. Mira and I are dotted across the UK but it hasn't changed the way we work. We were never one of those bands that got in a room and jammed. That's really not us. It's actually the opposite of what I want to do. We've always shared music online, usually by sending each other files. That's how its always worked so nothing's changed there. The only challenge is rehearsing so we just plan it really well and get together for three to four weeks before we have a tour or something and practise solidly until the time comes to play. I think that works best. That's how we did it before the three UK shows we just played."

Ladytron's return to the live arena for the aforementioned three shows in Liverpool, London, and Glasgow respectively sold out well in advance, and unsurprisingly received an overwhelming response from both fans and critics alike. Nevertheless, with such a large back catalogue to choose from, the only criticism that did come their way was more about the songs they chose not to play. Something Marnie is only too aware of.

"It's really difficult putting together a set! We thought about it long and hard but the songs we intended to play changed as we carried on rehearsing. Some things worked better than others, and we're always open to change so the setlist did. Quite a few times! There'll always be people asking why we didn't play 'He Took Her to a Movie' or 'Playgirl.' 'He Took Her to a Movie' isn't in our set at the moment. 'Playgirl' is but ended up being left out for those three shows. But that's not to say they won't return in the future. We've got six album's worth of music to span and go through, so it was really about what felt best for us."

[Note: A shorter version of this article originally appeared in Issue 65 of Under the Radar's print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online and is an extended version of the article, twice as long as the original.]

www.ladytron.bandcamp.com

www.twitter.com/ladytronmusic

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Ambrose Smith
May 28th 2019
9:50am

Been a huge fan of Ladytron for last 8 years I guess. Stoked to hear the new album. They definitely getting better with time and don’t aim the commercial values. Wanna see them live with new album. So many things associated with them. Love the band and thanks for posting this up!