Like a modern-day, gender-flipped answer to Roxy Music, Liverpudlian electropop quartet Ladytron has a taste for gorgeous synthesizer melodies and a romanticism that manages to be heart-on-sleeve and icily detached at the same time. (Ladytron even winked at the influence on the cover of 2003’s Softcore Jukebox, in which co-lead singers Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie posed in swimwear in a PG-rated nod to Roxy Music’s Country Life.) Gravity The Seducer, the band’s fifth full-length and first new album in more than three years, is more atmospheric and wistful than 2008’s Velocifero, but stays well within Ladytron’s firmly established framework of chilly but hooky baroque-pop.
Given that the catchiest song here, “Ace Of Hz,” was first released on last year’s career-retrospective Best Of 00-10, the lack of a propulsive single to match earlier gems like “Destroy Everything You Touch” and “Sugar,” as well as an overabundance of instrumentals, suggests a band that’s spinning its wheels. Still, while Gravity is a bit cold to the touch, that wintry feel is also a big part of Ladytron’s charm. The group’s love songs have always embraced metaphors suggesting a lingering fear of the inability to connect emotionally, an android-like anxiety that pops up again repeatedly on Gravity, especially on the elegantly beautiful “Mirage” and “Melting Ice.” So what if they aren’t moving forward, when holding their ground sounds this good?