Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Ladytron – The Animals

The 60s band The Animals does not appear to have anything to do with this song, despite your editor’s best strained efforts for a connection.


Micha Cavaseno: The return of Ladytron shouldn’t have been anything more than blasé and droll. In a land where so much synth-based music sounds like endless simulations of swooning delight, “The Animals” sounds like a po-faced raspberry and thumbs down to hollow jubilation. Which isn’t to say that the folks at Ladytron showed up to be moodkills (as much as it’s so desperately needed these days), but rather they sound grounded and perfectly disengaged with the world around them. Hell the chorus on this song doesn’t even sound like it really ever wants to take flight! In a weird way, it’s thrilling to hear music that’s got the confidence to shy away from the modern demand for ambition, especially when it’s supposedly ‘comeback’ season for veterans such as them.

Alfred Soto: I admire Ladytron’s persistence — when we danced to “Playgirl” at Club 5922 we thought they were the fall 2001 equivalent of, who the fuck knows, Classic Nouveaux. Now Ladytron are the 2018 equivalent of, right, Ladytron, but stripped of garishness. The synths overwhelm the vocals, politely. Their spirit animal is the kitten.

Tim de Reuse: Putting aside the aggressively breathy mix, like we’re getting a bootleg recording of a performance inside a racquetball court, the sing-song melody that passes for a chorus is so dead-eyed and unadorned I can’t help but worry I’m missing something — is this the harmony line to a more substantive melody that was accidentally cut? It’s not just that this sounds uninteresting as far as Ladytron tracks go, but that it sounds like an uninteresting Ladytron track that isn’t even finished.

Will Adams: A song that throbs beneath a thick blanket of fog, “The Animals” intrigues not only because of the slogans that bookend it — “there’s no law; there’s no God; there’s no harm; there’s no love” — but because of the hell that we know is lurking underneath all the guitar fuzz and reverbed vocals.

Edward Okulicz: The icy terrain of Witching Hour has been replaced by flames and an intoxicating haze, like waking up and finding that you’ve landed on Venus, minus the atmospheric crushing. No, with the atmospheric crushing. And there’s Helen Marnie in the centre, sounding like she’s still stuck in the permafrost somewhere — “there’s no God” indeed. Maybe the songwriting’s a touch thin but they’re still the coolest sounding band ever.

Katherine St Asaph: The difference between Gravity the Seducer and Velocifero/Witching Hour isn’t one of quality, necessarily, but of time scale: the difference between a post-apocalyptic tundra and a landscape during its apocalypse. The former is evocative enough, but it’s the latter that’s the seducer, and when properly executed it destroys everything it touches, where “everything” is “Katherine and her desire to listen to anything else.” “The Animals” isn’t quite so immediate as that, but it shares with “Weekend” and “I’m Not Scared” a deceptively steady pulse, with “Lost Boys and Girls Club” a perfect synth line, with Susanne Sundfør’s “Accelerate” a sumptuous death drive. Helen’s in her driest lower register, sinister and straightforward: “there’s no law, there’s no God, there’s no heart, there’s no love” is the most straightforward Ladytron lyric since Light & Magic (year 3 BWH). Mira contributes Tanya Donelly-esque sweetening: backing choirs that sound like swooning then fainting, like air then poison. The drums are remarkably athletic beneath the chorus, but you’re too adrift in the choir reverie above them to notice. And that chorus should be clunky –“you’re inventing words for defending me” still is, kinda — but powers through via sheer forward motion (and a touch of Little Boots’ “Remedy,” for pop), rhythm locking into place against the beat. It also, one imagines, would be great to sing at some hypothetical, unbound-to-playlists karaoke: up an octave, desperate and impassioned and loud, because Ladytron songs only work when cataclysmically loud, to match the all-encompassing, world-crushing, narcotic nihilism. The world is beautiful when it’s melting and crashing against you.

Reader average: [10] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Ladytron – The Animals”

  1. “The Animals” is such a grower. It sounds better and better after each listen. +1 for Katherine’s review.

  2. cut this from my blurb because it’s really long enough, but I prefer Velocifero to Witching Hour (it’s more consistent), which is probably also part of why I like this