LADYTRON with DJs FELIX and GANI (Milk) and Mario J (AD/D) at Gypsy Co-op (817 Queen West), Saturday (November 12). $15. www.milkaudio.com.
These days, bands aren't scared of a little synth, but back in 99, maybe cuz everyone was still reeling from the mid-90s dance music/Euro techno pop craze, only one group was prepared to seize the keys with some energy. That was Ladytron, the UK foursome of Mira Aroyo, Daniel Hunt, Helena Marnie and Reuben Wu, in Andromeda Strain-inspired suits and mod haircuts, on analog synths backing up Helena's vocals. The hip group (once inaccurately described as "four Japanese chicks with cool jobs vs fashion-obsessed über-cool haircuts") came out with their first album, 604, in 01, when groups like Goldfrapp and Air were doing stylish things with keyboards and electronic filters, and electroclash was all the rage.
But after some downtime, synthesizers and electronic elements are on the rise again. Since I happen to be talking to the band's Reuben Wu, I may as well ask him if he feels like this helps his futuristic band or makes them seem less distinct.
"Well, we've been about since 1999 and we've always been a 'cult' band ever since we started," he begins from his home in Liverpool, the birthplace of another well-known musical foursome.
"I think the influence of our music has definitely seeped into the mindsets of many new bands since then. The whole electro/rock sound has become pretty mainstream now.
"But I think the reason why we're still here is because we always focused on the music and nothing else. Some of the music coming out of the new electro era in 2001 sounds completely dated because it was so one-dimensional," he says.
Ladytron made a very conscious decision to keep their music lush, as they did on their hot new album, Witching Hour, released last October. While veering away from any particular trends, the group finally achieved the sound they've always wanted, says Wu.
"It comes from doing a lot of touring as a live band and realizing the dynamics of it. It's affected the way we write songs and the way we think about their production."
The reward for the group's detailed new production style was critical raves and the ability to maintain their cool and cred. They recently altered Bloc Party's Like Eating Glass for the band's remix album; ditto for Gang of Four.
And like their music, their hairstyles have evolved as well.
"Danny's let his migrate to his face, Mira has Hasidic curls, Helena's has grown longer and mine is less gravity-defying," Wu breaks it down.
Saturday's Milk presentation features two Ladytron principals, so you'll only get to see Wu and Aroyo's new coifs as they play "music that makes them dance in their bedrooms" all night long.