Two years in the past, Ladytron’s immortal “Seventeen” briefly went viral on TikTok. The observe got here out again in 2002—earlier than lots of the platform’s customers had even been born—but the Liverpool band’s brittle, dead-eyed electroclash struck a nerve. A barbed indictment of exploitation rendered in icy electronics, “Seventeen” was forward of its time in sound and lyrics, paving the way in which for over a decade of darkly enveloping electro pop. In 2019, following an eight-year break, Ladytron returned with an agitated, apocalyptic self-titled album that cleared the desk for a brand new period. Now, on their seventh album, Time’s Arrow, the band reaches for a lighter sound, with shiny manufacturing, effervescent synths, and impressionistic lyrics that house in on the unrelenting march of time.
The manufacturing on Time’s Arrow renders escapism in gleaming tones. On “The Night time,” over an upbeat groove and glowering synths, vocalist Helen Marnie takes a nocturnal journey that spins uncontrolled; it maintains their seductive edge whereas morphing into some of the joyously simple pop songs of their catalog. The band’s music works finest on this propulsive mode: On the chiming standout “Faces,” Marnie’s lyrical repetition lends a throbbing pulse that accelerates alongside glassy synth traces. On the anthemic and shoegaze-y “California,” a downcast love letter to the state, distorted guitars and durable drums dial issues up earlier than dissipating beneath Marnie’s ethereal refrain. “California, make us blissful,” she intones, letting the phrases drift weightlessly.
Evocative photographs recur all through Time’s Arrow, which is stuffed with flashing lights, water, and goals that provide mesmerizing areas for getting misplaced. “Flight From Angkor” revolves round a gradual construct of oscillating synth traces and clanging guitar, laying down an unsettled backdrop for Mira Aroyo’s mild voice; reminiscence, she sings, is a “corridor of mirrors echoing for years.” Experiencing time as a one-directional drive supplies the album’s throughline, a theme that works in live performance with the music’s swirling, atmospheric moods. The cinematic title observe drives it house finest: Set in opposition to jagged, feedback-heavy manufacturing and a menacing synth, Aroyo’s vocals develop more and more stressed, matching time’s irrepressible circulation ahead.
Time’s Arrow’s consistency additionally works in opposition to it. The report’s extra placid songs bleed collectively: “The Dreamers” is a gauzy, shiftless ballad that circles a static chord development and imprecise lyrics, whereas “Sargasso Sea,” a largely instrumental observe that follows it, evaporates simply because it begins to construct towards a climax. “Distress Bear in mind Me” fares higher, a music that doesn’t wallow within the titular distress a lot as sunbathe and luxuriate in it. Expressive washes of guitar and drums present a heat, delicate consolation for the torment, captured in Marnie’s wealthy, layered vocals. Like the most effective songs on Time’s Arrow, it proves simply how intoxicating Ladytron’s enduring model of atmospheric synth pop may be.
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