Five albums into an intriguing career that's seen them score bona fide hits with the pulsating beats of 'Seventeen' and the epic build of 'Destroy Everything You Touch,' these days Ladytron seem far more interested in making music for themselves rather than dancefloor DJs.
That's not to say they're not still working within a synth-soaked template on their new (and aptly named) album, 'Gravity the Seducer,' but the band's usual metal-sleek beatscape has mellowed into something a little more quixotic, with gauzy instrumentals (autoharp, bells, organ, and violin lend an elegant, almost orchestral bent) sitting alongside hookier tracks like first single 'Ace of Hz.'
Spinner caught up with Ladytron vocalist Mira Aroyo as the band was rehearsing in London for their North American tour, which kicked off last week and continues throughout October.
This new album has that characteristic Ladytron sound, but also brings a certain stately new element to the mix -- were you consciously thinking about going for a different sound?
It's a mixture of both. We knew that we wanted to create a certain atmosphere, a lusher sort of record. That's how we started thinking about it. I think what came out was a different sort of pop album, so to speak. No matter how much you plan, songs have a tendency to take on a life of their own.
The songs ended up featuring a lot of recurring musical and lyrical elements, so that the album as a whole really keeps you within a similar mood. I think this is the most cohesive thing we've made to date. It felt good to work on such a concise group of songs.
Is the songwriting process a democratic one, or does everyone bring something distinct to the mix?
We usually start off in our own studios. Sometimes the music and the production are done by one person, or someone will have a piece of music in mind and pass it on to someone else to work on the vocals. Other times, it can be more collaborative. Oftentimes, you might have a melody in your head for ages and then take it to the rest of the band to mess around and see what we can come up with. It's a very organic thing that we don't think about too much.
What prompted the sonic direction of 'Gravity the Seducer'?
We ended up with a lot more slower songs than we had in the past. We wanted to move away from what things would sound like when playing live, which influenced the last few records. That freed us up to include different instruments like harp and other things that we don't usually use on stage.
With so many electronic textures, it must be difficult to replicate the album's sounds on stage.
It's definitely working out -- we've been rehearsing the songs before we go on tour, as we haven't played many of these songs live yet. So we kind of build them into things little by little. It's definitely different because we're not a guitar-bass-drums band, so what we get is a bit of an approximation. It certainly is a bit of a funny process, though.
We're playing as a five-piece this time around, four of us and a drummer. So in a way, it's even more keyboard-driven than before, given that we've got synth-activated basslines in the mix.
The band seemed to tire of extensive touring the last few albums -- is the current shorter tour you're doing behind this record a reaction to that?
Well, we're still covering a lot of ground in four weeks! [laughs] But we're learning how to better pace ourselves and not go out on the road for too long at a time. But right now, it's been exciting thinking about live shows again.
What was it like for the band to put out a best-of retrospective album earlier this year?
It kept us busy and made us reflect on past albums, so coming back to this new album felt fresh.
Ladytron have been around for a decade now, outlasting many electro bands that have come and gone in that time -- what do you attribute the group's longevity to?
We've always had a very loyal fanbase, for starters. And we're always very careful not to release something that isn't good enough. We don't have pressure from record companies -- probably because we've never had much by way of mainstream success -- so we've been able to develop slower and come up with newer sounds rather than regurgitating the same sounds over and over. Being on an independent record label like Nettwerk in Canada allows us to do things our own way, mainly. Having that freedom counts for a lot.