Ahead of the January 20, 2023 release of its new album Time’s Arrow, Ladytron offers a glimpse of what we’re in for with the music video for the lead single “City of Angels.” Directed my Manuel Nogueira the video shows figures caught up in a dance in a dimly lit underground setting like a a forgotten dance club out of a dystopian science fiction film. The haze and shadow fit well with a song that while buoyant and pulsing with a subtle momentum is an orchestration of sonic opacity between vocals and layered melodic lines that are reminiscent of New Wave era synth pop so that one has a sense of navigating not just an environment the likes of which is depicted in the video but the social landscape as well with its competing demands on your attention and regularly evolving signifiers. If the song references Los Angeles it does so in capturing how a big city built on both traditional commerce and the entertainment industry is always more complex and nuanced than any romanticizing or cynicism is adequate convey with accuracy. Rather, Ladytron’s gift for crafting colorfully atmospheric rock music is akin to the way William Friedkin imbues his own films, and his own depiction of Los Angeles as a kind of character as well as setting, with grit, deep mood and an eye for fine details. Ladytron’s cinematic sensibilities have been there since its 2001 debut album 604 and it appears Time’s Arrow as hinted at by “City of Angels” will be full of the band’s signature set of observational stories set to evocative soundscapes. Watch the video for “City of Angels” on YouTube and connect with Ladytron at the links provided.
Syzygy’s Synth Pop Disco Song “Soothe” Transforms Abrupt Self-Awareness Into a Celebration of Self-Acceptance
Syzygy from Melbourne, Australia have tapped into a dark realm of synth pop that sounds like an extrapolation on where Ladytron was circa 604. But rather than take that electroclash foundation into shoegaze, this duo sounds like it listened to a great deal of 1980s Giorgio Moroder and found a musical language suited to exploring emotional habits through the kind of dance pop that makes a meaningful dive into foundational psychological spaces accessible and desirable. On its new album Anchor and Adjust (released October 14, 2022), Syzygy delves into the nature of power dynamics in relationships of all kinds and of dysfunction arising from getting stuck in ruts that can feel like instincts and a core of your personality when it’s merely how you’ve trained yourself how to navigate through life. Through its brooding synths and meditative rhythms the band comprised of Rebecca Maher and Gus Kenny formerly of synth punk band Spotting find paths of working through transforming habits by offering alternative outlooks. The song “Soothe” refers to the behaviors we all adopt without realizing it to untangle anxieties through self-soothing. Some self-medicate and self-soothing is related but can manifest in movements that give us a sense of control through an act of comforting even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else because it never has to, it need only distract ourselves from overwhelming discomfort. One might see that as a method of dissociation but it’s also a method of emotional survival in a period of extreme duress. The song goes into that subject in a way that is personal and demystifies it as something normal and not a source of shame and negative self-consciousness. Rather the songs fast pace and energetic and irresistible rhythm make this burst of awareness turn into acceptance. Listen to “Soothe” on YouTube and follow Syzygy at the links below. Anchor and Adjust is now available in a limited, transparent purple vinyl edition.
Syzygy’s Electroclash Synth Pop Song “Justice of Mercy” Questions the Folly of Believing One’s Own Virtue has the Power to Change Anyone But Yourself
Australian electronic pop Syzygy was formed in 2019 in Melbourne when former Spotting members Rebecca Maher and Gus Kenny started to explore a more pure electronic pop sound. Going to the roots of that style of music Maher and Kenny have been deep into the aesthetics of 80s synth pop but with a more modern production style. And yet the music video for the single “Justice or Mercy” and its fantastic use of letters as pixels forming Maher’s image dancing really touches on memories of Yaz videos, the music of Human League and certainly Phil Oakey’s collaboration with Giorgio Moroder on the title song for 1984 science fiction film Electric Dreams, “Together in Electric Dreams,” and add in a touch of early Depeche Mode. The arrangements bring to mind Ladytron’s 604 album and the way the bass line is accented with the percussion. All comparisons and dissection of possible influence aside Maher’s vocals shine through with an emotional power and her minor chord shifts here and there truly help to set the track apart from a lot of other music in a similar style. They lyrics also explore a nuanced take on relationships and the folly of hoping someone will change even given consequences if they don’t feel they’ve done anything wrong. The synth melodies intertwine with the percussion and rhythm after the manner of modern electroclash and fans of Boy Harsher and Electric Youth may find this track what they’re looking for to branch out into new music. Watch the video for “Justice or Mercy” on YouTube and follow Syzygy at the links below. Look for the album Justice or Mercy due out later in 2022.
100% Contemplate Power Relations in Society on the Retro-Futurist, Electronic Post-punk Song “Prisoner”
The shimmery, shining, repetitive synth line that runs through much of 100%’s “Prisoner” is like an analogous representation of a transmission through a landline. The other synth melodies sound like something that could have come about in 1985, 1995, 2005 or 2025. Which is fitting given the themes of the song and Lena Molnar’s vocals striking an inquisitive and low-key confrontational tone questioning the nature of power relations, justice, public safety and the habits of a society choosing to self-medicate rather than deal with serious social issues and how we deal with them or don’t in an adequate way. The song is a lo-fi, mostly electronic post-punk track but that fits these eternal themes that never seem to get resolved and though technology develops society finds a way to sweep problems that science and a current dominant form of economics, almost always in lock step with one another, doesn’t seem to be able to address to anyone’s satisfaction. Is this a song inquiring about the life of a prisoner? Who is the prisoner? Are we all of habits and ways of being and living? Does this song expand upon the meaning of “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”? This song invites the listener to contemplate these questions on a fundamental level. Fans of early Ladytron will appreciate how the song seems both retro and out of normal time. Listen to “Prisoner” on Spotify, give the rest of the album Clear Visions out on It Records now, and follow the Australian band 100% at the links below.
Glass Spells Weaves a Spell of Emotionally Present Nostalgia on “Night Hour”
Glass Spells’ “Night Hour” transports you immediately to a reflective but anticipatory state of mind. Like you’re taking a moment to assess your life before going out for a night of potential fun and relaxation to dance away your worries. The distorted synth swells coupled with the cystalline melodies and sultry vocals fuse modern electro dance pop like a fusion of early Ladytron and early 80s post-punk circa Depeche Mode’s Speak & Spell and Human League’s Dare! The way the opening passages of the song unfold is like breathing in cool fresh air with a similar emotional resonance as that of Human League’s “Seconds” and its simultaneous evoking of feelings of nostalgia and being emotionally present. Listen to “Night Hour” on Soundcloud, connect with Glass Spells at the links below and look out for the group’s new EP Mirrors which came out on June 25, 2020.
Part of 5-track EP Mirrors
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