Three years on from their culty third album Witching Hour, Anglo-Bulgarian foursome Ladytron return with Velocifero. Having discovered a formula for stark, echo-drenched electro-noir, this time round the band have stuck to what they know. That might be a blessing for their sizeable fanbase, but it’s something of a curse too.
Velocifero feels raw in its roots, but it has a tendency to rely on the edginess of its angsty beat and angry synths to create impact. Never let it be said that Ladytron strive for profound lyrics or melodies to hum to.
Ghosts, an easy single choice, has melodic elegance offset by a rugged grungey riff, echoing guitars and an addictive beat that make it catchier than MRSA in a hospital ward.
I’m Not Scared, with its neck-breaking nod to ’80s pop totty, and the darker Runaway, lean more towards Depeche Mode‘s patented brand of deep and meaningful primal electropop.
But from then on in, parts slip into a mediocrity that suggests Ladytron ran out of ideas somewhere in the process of writing.
Burning Up, with its droning backing vocals trailing every line, has an infectious tune, while the monotonous Predict The Day builds into a euphoria, but they fail to take the album on to a higher plane.
Elsewhere, Tomorrow soothes with its power-pop filled chorus and Versus brings the experience to an end with another catchy tune and a minor change in pace, but with dodgy lyrics about kittens and rain.
The softness of Helen Marnie’s voice against the rocky, stark landscape of Velocifero gives Ladytron its edge (something that doesn’t work as well with the two tracks sung by Miro Aroyo in her Bulgarian tongue), but overall, it’s never really enough. With few variations in rhythm, pitch and even the synth sounds, Velocifero does little to stir the soul.