Love 'em or hate 'em, there definitely ain't no one like 'em. Ladytron is a perfectly named group, as its music consists primarily of girls singing -- there's the lady -- and weird robotic synth-derived sounds -- the tron. The name comes from a song off Roxy Music's first album, which came out in 1972, and Ladytron's dance-pop art-primitivism touches on numerous musical points between then and now, including Kraftwerk, Devo, Suicide, Gary Numan, New Order, Man or Astro-man?, and their synth-trash contemporaries, Chicks on Speed, all of it delivered with the self-mocking Eurotrash glamminess pioneered by the Roxies and David Bowie. If you want guitars, you're looking in the wrong place. If you want ironic disco-pop, Ladytron is just your ticket.
The group formed in Liverpool in 1998 around keyboardists and programmers Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu and singer Mira Aroyo; Ladytron's second vocalist, Helena Marnie joined soon after and the group released their "He Took Her to a Movie" in 1999. The next year they issued their homage to Human League, "Open Your Heart," on March Records tribute to the seminal synth-pop ensemble, Reproductions. In 2000, Ladytron delivered on the trashy early '80s promise of that single with a well-titled EP, Commodore Rock.
Then in early 2001 came 604, a classic sleeper album that evolved into one of the seminal records of the past few years, serving as a lynchpin for the burgeoning electro scene with its seamless and playful integration of glam, disco, new wave, robot-pop, and Eurotrash dance music. When the single "Playgirl" became a runaway club hit, Emperor Norton released the Playgirl EP, featuring a pumping remix of the cut by fellow electro superstar Felix Da Housecat. A year and a half later, Ladytron returned with a second full-length, the delicious Light & Magic. The quartet continues to play with the conventions of virtually all post-1970 analog synth-based musical styles, even the coy and ironic modern electro they helped inspire, while consistently delivering songs with timeless and classic pop appeal. But Light & Magic is a richer and more sophisticated collection of material than the group's debut, avoiding the icy cynicism and self-conscious disco posturing that characterizes some of Ladytron's peers in favor of innovation and emotion, suggesting that this is a group you can expect to outlast the fad they've helped begin.