Ever since its first single, "He Took Her To A Movie," Ladytron has kept one clinical eye on the cold realities of contemporary life and the other on the dance floor. Take "Soft Power," the first single from Ladytron's third full-length, The Witching Hour. Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo's twin vocals suggest hypnotized robots as they sing about "friendly fires" and "the machine that kills for us." The music, on the other hand, suggests a passion that couldn't exist without those anxieties. There's anger to "Destroy Everything You Touch," but when Marnie and Aroyo ask whomever the song's about to "destroy me this way," they're just restating the obvious.
The Witching Hour doesn't vary much from the pattern established by its predecessors, but it's every bit as beguiling. The band is never better than when it channels its sonic gifts toward pop (as on "Destroy" and "High Rise") but by the time The Witching Hour starts to substitute hooks for atmosphere, it's long since created a mood that's hard to break. If the end of the world has an after-party, the soundtrack will sound like this.