Paris Bowling Foch

[a]Ladytron[/a] are what early-'80s futurists predicted pop would be like in the Year 2000...

Remember when left-field pop boffins pretended to be blank-voiced androids living in bleakly modern cityscapes and having joyless sex with machinery? Ah, those were the days. [a]Ladytron[/a] are what early-’80s futurists predicted pop would be like in the Year 2000: two dark-haired, black-clad male units tweak miniature noiseboxes in the background while two dark-haired, black-clad female units tickle vintage synths and chant minimalist vocals in the foreground. And they look fantastic – existential art terrorist chic meets Comme Des Gargons catwalk show.

Despite being Anglo-Swedish, the ‘Tron are playing one of their first ever gigs in a Parisian bowling alley at a club night hosted by their French label, Tricatel. Rammed with heartbreakingly beautiful Eurotrash, including the sexy boys from Air, it’s a swell setting – if only somebody had thought to halt the actual bowling during their set, or at least whack up the volume to drown out the noise. Surely the future was supposed to be [I]quieter [/I]than this?

But listen closely and [a]Ladytron[/a]’s matt-black computer world includes the swooning robo-pop laments ‘Playgirl’ and ‘Skools Out’, which could be Lauren Laverne fronting Add N To (X). Or the sinister department-store drama of ‘Paco’, which sounds like the [I]Are You Being Served? [/I]theme being demolished by post-punk novelty-hit artniks The Flying Lizards: “You don’t have to spend/You just have to pretend”.

There is no kitsch, revivalist irony here, just low-voltage mystique and quietly devastating tunes including the magnificent Kraftwerk homage love-triangle single ‘He Took Her To A Movie’. [a]Ladytron[/a] have monochrome masterpieces galore, but they need to pump up the volume and share their introverted alienation with the outside world if they hope to drown out the [I]real [/I]21st century with their far more stylish alternative future.