From the disco floors of Bulgaria to the dance halls of Liverpool comes this first full-length from Euro neu-wavers Ladytron. For the members of this group, as well as numerous other like-minded electro popsters, the late '70s/early '80s is just a smudge on their collective memory. Only in their mid-twenties now, they never experienced the first wave for themselves. But oddly enough groups like Ladytron, Fine China, Floraline, and Chicks On Speed have a fever for Gary Numan, Joy Division, and the Human League that only emulation can cure. Labels like Emperor Norton (as well as Disko B, Minty Fresh, and Bungalow) have sensed the pulse of so many retro-guided hearts and staked their futures on following the early '80s into the next millennium.
For all the hype that Ladytron's EP, Commodore Rock, received, it didn't hold up so well under repeated listens. Weighing in with a fuller effort on 604, Ladytron has come into its own. The beats and analogue-fueled riffs are intoxicating. Itís the kind of stuff that could pied-pipe millions of oscillating, Kraftwerk-craving Eurotrash kids into the Baltic Sea.
This album appeals to all that's dark and robotic in post-everything Europe. But it's hard to tell if it will catch on as well here in the States. Do indie kids this side of the pond like their electronica slightly more organic. à la Stereolab or Tahiti 80? Perhaps. But they'll find much that's boogie-worthy in 604. Make no mistake, this is a dance record. With big numbers like "Playgirl," the anthemic "Jet Age," and "Discotrak," there's much on here to endear Ladytron to a new generation of club kids. But the listener should be warned that there's also a few too many weary, gratuitous industrial noise tracks and digital chirping songs that feel like filler. Regardless, if you have a heart that yearns for icy European new-new wave, then youíll definitely get into this disc.
Emperor Norton Records, 102 Robinson St., Los Angeles, CA 90026, http://www.emperornorton.com
Randall J. Stephens