Normally, best-ofs are an indulgence I forswear. Why snugly revisit old ground when you could spend that hour listening to something new? Sometimes, though, they do serve a purpose; gathering a band’s flashes of genius into one solid beam can serve to focus your attention on the kind of middle-ranking acts that would normally be overlooked for flashier or gobbier peers.
And such an epiphany-inducing beast is the new Ladytron selected works. As the black and glossy night-pulses of ‘Playgirl’ and ‘Deep Blue’ caress the office stereo like the kinky little minxes they are, it’s a revelation how much this band have actually meant to us.
Brilliant as ‘Light And Magic’ and ‘Witching Hour’ were, there was always something more pressing, someone shouting a bit louder. Perhaps as well, they were just a little bit too haughty, too perfect-haired and eyelinered to love. Compared with the sexpopglam exuberance of sometime bassist Pop Levi or the band who gifted them their name, Roxy Music, Ladytron’s sonic world is a chilly and unforgiving one.
Or at least it seemed that way at the time. Though the likes of ‘Cracked LCD’, with Mira Aroyo’s choked and clipped Eastern European intonations, and the blue morning comedown of ‘International Dateline’ can still shiver us, the strongest impression here is how chart-ready these songs sound. As pop, under the influence of producers like Red One and dark ladies like Rihanna and Gaga has grown harder and colder, Ladytron’s tunes in retrospect seem less aloof and out-of-sync and more like great lost bangers.
Take the relentless T-X of a song that is ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ with its great hovering-death-star intro and ‘OUT OF MY WAY MORTALS’ chorus, Helen Marnie pitiless and purring as she swears perdition on those who stand in her way. Or the compulsively creepy ‘Seventeen’, the throbbing ‘Runaway’.
It’s no wonder Aguilera sought out their sleek android charms for her last album ‘Bionic’. Truth be told, she doesn’t even deserve them, and Ladytron sound more like the tomorrow’s world than Ms Burlesque likely ever will again. Now, if you need me, I’ll be in the corner at the future-disco, impassively picking specks of dust from my immaculate black trousers and calibrating my robotic death-ray eyeballs.
‘Ladytron 00 – 10’ is out in March