Why Ladytron?

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Every year since about 1996, a couple of bands have popped up in Britain toting what amounts to an 80s synthpop revival. It kicked off with Romo, and has never really got beyond that - remember Komputer? or Younger Younger 28s?

And now Ladytron suddenly seem to be doing the business, convincing not only the occasional Brit of their worth but also cracking indie credibility elsewhere - check European and Stateside posters naming them in the current favourites thread.

What's the difference? I like this kind of thing in a nostalgic way but I really can't see what makes Ladytron special. Stevie T. and I were talking about this on Saturday and we reckoned it might be the image - what have this band got right, though, that the others haven't? And are they any good?

Tom, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Without putting a drop of thought into explaining why I enjoy them musically, perhaps one reason why more US/European posters seem more open to Ladytron is that we weren't exposed to the other Brit band's attempts at synthpop revival that you mentioned. Well, I wasn't exposed at least, I can't speak for others, but I don't recall Orlando or Younger Younger 28's or the like getting any records released in the U.S. And Laptop is just now getting record deals here. I imagine Mr. Merritt is partly to credit for opening these doors.

Scott Plagenhoef, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

"...but I really can't see what makes Ladytron special. "

just a quick answer - they are special becuase no other British band are doing what they are doing in 2001. Therefore this makes them stand out from the crowd, they don't have any direct competition.

have this band got right: good songs with clever sounds, and with a defined style.

The last British band that tried the quirky cool synthpop with success, were Saint Etienne - but clearly Ladytron are far more synth oriented, saint etienne were more pop and sample oriented.

Ladyton succeed becuase they have a found their own niche.

ofcourse it is not as brilliant and falls way short of the alltime benchmarks in synth pop as human league - dare or scritti politti - cupid & psyche, or Propaganda - Secret Wish but for 2001 Ladytron with no direct competition will grap the comtemporary limelight in certain quarters.

In many ways Ladytron are this years Electribe 101 - good entertainment for now, but in 10 years time... only remembered by their fans..rather than having some broader public awareness such as Human League, who managed commercial success as well as having creative art-pop credibility.

To sum up Ladyton specialise in good marginal art-pop for the now - 2001.

DJ Martian, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Personally I would have liked'em much more if the name was Ladythong. Ladytron sounds like a robot-extra from Star Wars.

Stevie Nixed, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Nothing we haven't already heard before, updated samples and equipment, and I don't think say anything beyond the style. An anacronistic novelty, the reason I'm listening to them is cause they key me back into indie vibe, using a contemporary sound, I'll be over it by the end of the day.

K-reg, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Right time, right place. Slight air of mystery. Lots of pictures of wires and technology in album booklet. Thrust into mainstream (positive reviews, airplay?), may have 'refreshing' appeal after diet of guitar music of the 90's. Isn't the same 'taking the piss' or 'look at us, we are postmodern' attitude, which could go along with modern synth analogue type stuff. They tread a fine line between kitsch and 'credability'.

james e l, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

yean, the indie its ok to like,romo didnt get this far north so orlando and dex dexter DID NOT EXIST, havent read muchabout them or seen photos so image doesnt figure into why i like them - having a laff,good choons - much better than -wait illdo a question...

Geordie Robot, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

While reading this thread I've been confusing Ladytron with ( what I assume is a US band ) called "The Ladytron"..I haven't heard a thing from either band but I remembered "The Ladytron" because of some utterly horrible cover art that I won't be forgetting soon, unfortunately. But that answer belongs to an older thread, I think.

Mitch Lastnamewithheld, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Nothing and no, in that order. A Stereolab tribute band is about the last thing we need right now. Times are desperate.

Marcello Carlin, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

i think the other ladytron is german, of course someone will likely soon chime in and say they are, in fact, austrian.

keith, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

What DJ Martian said. Good tunes, good sound, good aesthetic makes a good band. Romo never crossed my mind I must say.

Omar, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I can't really add much to Omar and DJM's comments, except to say that whilst on the surface you've heard all the bits before (squelchy basslines, synth washes, simple sequencer lines, deadpan girl vocals etc), there's something slightly "unexpected" about the way it's all assembled. I can't explain this exactly, but somehow many of the tracks never quite turn out how I thought they would after say, the first 30 seconds.

I like the way that a hint of "Northernness" (e.g "Ladybird" or "The way that I found you" creeps into the lyrics. Sort of like Dubstar, only not dire.

Dr. C, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Is it me, or are Ladytron just Elastica moving the vintage of their nostalgia three years down the line, ie drawing on the arty end of synth pop rather than the arty end of punk? I was always bemused that, of all the Britpop exports, Elastica were the ones embraced most wholeheartedly by the indie Americans. I can only imagine it was down to such ineffables as 'attitude' and the fact that they looked like a cool girl gang. And much the same applies to the 'tron.

stevie t, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I would agree that, like Elastica, Ladytron are getting further along in the U.S. because they’re seen as an arty gang of girls. Absolutely. It’s a very appropriate comparison, I’d never thought of that. I also think they’re, sad to say, more apt to be embraced in the U.S. as a synth-pop band because they are women. Coincidentally, the band came up in conversation last night. A friend’s brother, whom is, by ILM standards, a casual music fan, he doesn’t seek out music for one thing, heard “PlayGirl” from his sister and really liked it because of, you guessed it, its “kitsch” appeal.

There are also elements of “right band, right time.” (There is nothing else out here like this, they’re on an indie label and with an indie PR firm that are doing decent work, people do, unfortunately, fall for things such as the “80s revival.” And personally, of all the records I listed on the thread Tom refers at the top, I’d say that they and Oranger are the two I can’t rightly say I’ll be listening to in a month, so it was the right time to ask the ? and get “Ladyton” as an anser.) Believe it or not, it sounds to new to a lot of people. With the exception of Stephin Merritt, off the top of my head, I can’t even think of an American synth-pop artist of note. And there isn’t much of a cult of people trumping the perfect pop of the Human League. It’s all the same as A Flock of Seagulls to them, a product of an era -- a music video-driven era at that, which in combination allows synth-pop to be dismissed as cheap, tinny.

In contrast, however -- speaking now for myself, why I listen to them -- compared to most prototypical synth-pop, there is a lot more variety of sounds and influences on the Ladytron record. “CSKA Sofia” could be a Beta Band song; “Zmeyka” could be Joy Division. And it’s more of a heavy, bass-driven, layered synth sound, more like Moroder or early New Order. They operate far less in the treble end of things that most synth-pop groups, and, especially with the instrumentals or Bulgarian-lang. bits, they confound expectations -- like Dr. C said. The songs that sound the most like I would think a synth-pop band would sound are actually my least favorite. (Such as the one near then end with the melody line that sounds like Baxendale’s “Electric Trains.”) Admittedly, the lyrics sometimes attempt to be too clever or rely too heavily on cool detachment and attitude.

And, I’m not picking on anyone here, but I always find Stereolab comparisons a bit lazy. In this case: Why? Because there are two girls and synths? Even Broadcast doesn’t sound that much like Stereolab to me. (Probably, however, because they sound so much like the USofA that any other comparison is superfluous.) Yes, the vocals are detached, but it’s more like the girl Cracknell, as DJ Martian said. At least with Broadcast/Stereolab comparisons they share the element of drone, but Stereolab’s is all repitition, and there is virtually none of that on the Ladytron or Broadcast records. Of course the Bulgarian one in Ladytron must be socialist. ; )

Scott Plagenhoef, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

American synthpop? I had high hopes, since dashed, for Laptop, but I still think his first 3 A-Sides ("End Credits";"Gimme The Nite";"Nothing To Declare") are the best the retro-genre's produced so far (I'm not counting Merritt, either).

Tom, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

What? American? I have "Nothing to Declare" on an English label and, I suppose, always assumed then he was English. Thanks for the correction. I think the full-length has just finally been released here this spring, and I'm not sure if the singles were ever relesed here domestically. I'd say the relative lack of a singles market may have shackled synth-pop in the U.S. a bit, as well, but Ladytron certainly got noticed on the back of the Commodore Rock EP.

Scott Plagenhoef, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

There is an American synthpop band and they are called FIGURINE and they are great! I don't think they have had the marketing Ladytron has had though so maybe that's why there not as huge. Like, I have seen free Ladytron stickers and posters in Brooklyn.

I like Ladytron in a way that is not ironic or kitch at all. I heard irony was going out of style...something I just heard.

JRL, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Ladytron are nether 80s revivalists, nor are they ironic or kitch. Irony is the celebration of something as a joke. Why can't people accept that you can derive true pleasure from certain things which others find not serious?

datamath, Sunday, 24 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Not only are Ladytron not 80s revivalists, nor kitsch or ironic, they also aren't girls (well half of them aren't anyway).

I think the reason Ladytron have succeded where, say YY28s failed is because YY28s were godawful and Ladytron are ace. Maybe I'm missing something. YY28s really did reek of horrid ironic kitschiness. Did you ever hear their album? How much mileage can a band get from writing songs about pregnant teenagers living in tower blocks and wishing they were famous?

I agree with what a few people have said already - perhaps what they're doing isn't particularly original, but what they're doing is very good and they're doing it extremely well, so where's the problem?

jamesmichaelward, Sunday, 24 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

-- DJ Martian> Ladytron are from bulgaria not england.

hmmm, Sunday, 24 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I think only a quarter of them are Bulgarian, the rest I believe are English. Not sure why this matters but I just thought I'd clear things up.

jamesmichaelward, Sunday, 24 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink


DJ Martian, Sunday, 24 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

americans don't like ladytron.

chaki, Monday, 25 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

ones from scouseland anyway.

gareth, Monday, 25 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I actually heard Ladytron knowingly (ie, getting up to ask the SF DJs what record was being played) this weekend. I honestly thought it was Momus played at the wrong speed. Utterly inexcusable.

masonic boom, Monday, 25 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Faster or Slower, Masonic?

Dr. C, Monday, 25 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Faster, since it was a gurl singing. Wait, I should stop taking the piss out of Momus and actually go respond on-thread.

masonic boom, Monday, 25 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
I think the image thing is something obviously considered by the groop, but at some point it was taken by the press and blown out of proportion. That's why you see posters saying 'art-terrorist chic, comme des arse on catwalk show etc' I think the music is consistently good enough to stand up in its own right. And of course everyone wants a band who attempts and succeeds in looking appropriate.

Datamath, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

i love ladytron, but that's not down to image, because i have no idea what their image is. didn't even realise they were in any way popular until i saw them on mtv this week, and i've been playing a cd of theirs on and off for about 18 months. it is like a contemporary update of late seventies and early eighties electropop, which is no bad thing. i'll have to stop liking them now i know that they are popular though.

kevan, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Ladytron . refreshing sound, boring songs. Zoot Woman is better

Mike Hanle y, Friday, 27 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

What exactly is the problem with people liking them anyway? why exactly does there need to be a justification? Other bands don't seem to come under this level of scrutiny, it's a pointless discussion-some bands tried to do a theoretically similar thing and failed, they did it right and succeeded, so what? Right place, Right time? It obviously wasn't the right time 3 or 4 years ago when they started now was it?

evol, Sunday, 29 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Casual listening - i like them. But most of it is aural furniture for your hair salon (and soon to be out of rotation)...

Jason, Monday, 30 July 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I'm surprised noone sees the punk in what they do, i'd be even more surprised if half the people talking shit on here have heard anything besides playgirl. Jasons hair salon is obviously quite groundbreaking in musical programming then?

, Thursday, 2 August 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

had a good electro club night in liverpool 2003-2005.

been a shit indie night for the last two years tho, anyone been?

max r, Sunday, 30 September 2007 05:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

it was called "EVOL" by the way

max r, Sunday, 30 September 2007 05:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

listening to Witching Hour remixes right now, and they're so much better than Witching Hour, which was so plainly rock. Which could have been a good thing, but wasn't quite.

bendy, Sunday, 30 September 2007 05:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Funny this thread popped up. I just got back from their show tonight, which constisted of mostly straight-forward readings of predominantly WH material. I was pleased, because unlike you sir, I freakin' love that album. Looking forward to the new one in '08.

Cosmo Vitelli, Sunday, 30 September 2007 09:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

not heard the WH remixes (although i have got ladytron's remix of GO4's "natural's not in it", which kills) but, like cosmo, i think the album as it stands is a fuckin' classic. wasn't convinced by them at all when i heard "17" and so forth; i think their, ahem, "rock" direction is far more interesting, satisfying and ... well, good.

grimly fiendish, Sunday, 30 September 2007 11:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

WH is pretty good

Curt1s Stephens, Sunday, 30 September 2007 22:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

nobody ever go to their clubnight in liverpool then?

it was quite small, so i guess the odds are against it.

max r, Sunday, 30 September 2007 22:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I really enjoyed their cover of "Oops, Oh My!"

Alex in NYC, Monday, 1 October 2007 14:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yeah, that's one of their best tracks, i reckon.

max r, Monday, 1 October 2007 14:20 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I was at their clubnights a few times 3 years ago at a place called Heebee-Jeebees, or something like that. It was good fun.

zeus, Monday, 1 October 2007 14:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

At Liverpool of course.

zeus, Monday, 1 October 2007 14:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

yeah, that was it. i went 4 or 5 times, it was a laugh, they had mark moore from s-express do a dj set, i think richard x played once too. it moved to the carling academy and went a bit indie and shit from what i've heard.

max r, Monday, 1 October 2007 14:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I don't know about that, I just spent one month in Liverpool, but discovered that. Even spoke to the guys, who were quite nice, and there was a week when I always met Reuben accidently in the town.
They played some indie guitar stuff as well, but the balance was just OK I think.

zeus, Monday, 1 October 2007 15:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i never speak to djs or musicians cuz i feel like i'm sucking up to them. seemed like quite laid back chaps, i suppose.

max r, Monday, 1 October 2007 15:29 (eleven years ago) Permalink

My mate used to speak quite highly of Ladytron's clubnight, it sounded fun enough tho I never got much out of their music myself

DJ Mencap, Monday, 1 October 2007 15:29 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i'm not a massive fan of their stuff, four of five really enjoyable tunes i think. but reuben wu's sets were class, towards the end of the night he'd play some really slammin techno and electro, well mixed, too.

max r, Monday, 1 October 2007 15:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"remember Komputer?"

yeah, they were wicked. if you're going to rip off someone else's sound, it may as well be kraftwerk's.

max r, Monday, 1 October 2007 15:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

six months pass...

new ladyton album now streaming on myspace http://www.myspace.com/ladytron

dated: last friday

Velocifero is on the player...

...for a week or so.

djmartian, Monday, 28 April 2008 13:16 (ten years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

Yeah, this lot sucked.

Keep Carmody and Carry On (The stickman from the hilarious 'xkcd' comics), Thursday, 1 January 2009 19:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

"Ladytron" is a song by Bryan Ferry, recorded by his band Roxy Music and appearing on their eponymous debut album. The English band Ladytron took their name from this song.

The song has distinctive instrumentation, including an oboe solo, liberal use of the mellotron's famous "three violins" tape set, and much processing of the other instruments by Brian Eno via his EMS VCS3 synthesizer and tape echo. The sound in the start of the song was created by Brian Eno, after Bryan Ferry asked him to produce something reminiscent of the Lunar Landing.

Lyrically, it presents Ferry as a Casanova-style seducer of women, whilst being simultaneously enraptured by them. Another interpretation is that the Ladytron is a female robot (hence the name), being seduced by Ferry.[1]

iago g., Thursday, 1 January 2009 22:30 (nine years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

Forcing myself to listen to some of this because they came up in a review that annoyed me and I realized I've never listened to an actual album's worth of Ladytron, but god I hate this stuff.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 29 December 2012 16:02 (five years ago) Permalink

Will never willingly listen to this album again.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 29 December 2012 16:29 (five years ago) Permalink

What was the review? Which Ladytron album did you liaten to?

how's life, Saturday, 29 December 2012 17:06 (five years ago) Permalink

Was a Pitchfork review of the Phenomenal Handclap Band. When I originally posted to this thread I was listening to 604. I liked Light & Magic a little more (or disliked it less). Didn't make it all the way through Witching Hour. That's as far as I got. Mostly the vocals really bother me, on 604 especially, though I'm not into the beats so much a lot of the time. Some nice sounds throughout, but that's not enough.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 30 December 2012 17:28 (five years ago) Permalink

Basically, I was enjoying hating them when 604 was playing but after that I didn't find them so objectionable.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 30 December 2012 17:29 (five years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

so "playgirl" is one of the best songs ever, huh

treeship 2, Saturday, 30 December 2017 05:06 (eleven months ago) Permalink

very simple, very familiar, but so enjoyable

treeship 2, Saturday, 30 December 2017 05:07 (eleven months ago) Permalink

yeah it's a choon that one.

i love this


piscesx, Saturday, 30 December 2017 06:37 (eleven months ago) Permalink

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