Music Reviews
Time's Arrow

Ladytron Time's Arrow

(Cooking Vinyl) Rating - 7/10

Ladytron might have been labeled an electro-clash band when they arrived in the late 90s, but their music has always scanned closer to electro-pop, if anything else. Over time, they shed the noisier aspects of their music and leaned more heavily into a pop sound which their seventh album, Time's Arrow, continues. 

Building further from the pristine sound of their 2019 self-titled album and adding elements of shoegaze and disco to the mix, the sound is even richer and polished than before, with heavier atmospheres and reverberated vocals hanging overhead like a layer of early morning dew.  CaliforniaThe Dreamers, and Misery Remember Me all combine the emotional turmoil and dense atmospheres of Cocteau Twins and early Cure; The Night pairs throbbing beat with glossy bright synths, and City of Angels opens things up with a crisp propulsive beat and pulsing synthesizers. 

The band has mostly swapped out the dystopian themes of their previous album in favor of themes of love, loss, dystopia, and hope:  "Time waits for no-one/We are the dreamers, dreaming our way out of this town," Helen Marnie sings on The Dreamers, a song about holding onto the hope of getting out of a dead end town, even if escape only comes through fantasies about a better life elsewhere. The otherwise anthemic dance-floor burner The Night is a bitter account of a soured relationship, where Helen Marnie sings: "I remember the times/I wanted to hurt you/I can feel you under my skin/And the games we play/That we'll never win." 

It's the ambitious nature of the album that works against it at times, and the added polish isn't without some drawbacks. Having produced most of the album themselves, it feels at times a little heavy-handed, with some songs not quite landing their intended target: We Never Went Away slows the tempo almost to a crawl and is too airy to really leave much of an impression, and Sargasso Sea dissipates into the atmosphere without leaving a trace. 

Ladytron might not be the same band it once was, where humor and a collective of creative adventurous spirits collided. Still, their later period still offers much to enjoy, and Time's Arrow is no exception. Even with its perceived flaws, it offers some real moments of beauty to get swept away in if you're looking for an escape from the world around you.