LADYTRON announce new album details

The wheel is turning the machine…

After a lengthy hiatus, electropop outfit Ladytron have announced details of a new album due to be released later this year.

Formed in Liverpool, Ladytron initially began life as a project between producers/DJs Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu (which led to the release of debut single ‘He Took Her To A Movie’ in 1999). Scottish student Helen Marnie and Bulgarian student Mira Aroyo joined the fledgling group soon after on vocals and synths.

Ladytron’s 2001 debut album 604 was met with critical acclaim, which was particularly surprising as it arrived during a period when synthpop was on a downturn. Their ability to put out polished, evocative electronic tunes via such singles as ‘Seventeen’, ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ and ‘Ace Of Hz’ has helped to establish the outfit as one of the most accomplished modern synthpop outfits in recent years.

Following in the footsteps of other artists, the 4-piece band are looking at PledgeMusic to fund their new album venture. The new as-yet-untitled release will be Ladytron’s sixth studio album following on from 2011’s Gravity The Seducer.

The campaign will open with a new single release titled ‘The Animals’, which will also include a remix by iconic electronic musician Vince Clarke. “‘The Animals’ was the first new song we had, and with it we went almost immediately into the studio with Jim Abbiss, who has worked with us previously on Destroy… and the Witching Hour album,” says vocalist Helen Marnie. “He’s the producer who has really understood us the most”.

Ladytron’s members have been pursuing their own projects in recent years, notably Helen Marnie who has been busy crafting her own solo music. Her 2017 album Strange Words And Weird Wars (see TEC review here) was summed up by The Electricity Club as “a solid album of contemporary electropop that listeners will find intelligent, engaging and yet also fun”.

Meanwhile, Daniel Hunt has kept busy composing for screen and also co-produced Lush’s 2016 EP Blind Spot (see review on our sister website Wavegirl here). Mira Aroyo has been working in TV and film while Reuben Wu has flourished as an accomplished photographer.

The new PledgeMusic campaign offers up a wealth of rewards for pledgers, including signed copies of ‘The Animals’ single release, signed copies of the new album, handwritten lyric sheets, a History of Ladytron photo book and new T-shirts and hoodies.

‘The Animals’ is scheduled for release this April. The as-yet-untitled album is scheduled for a release this autumn.

SINESTAR – A Million Like Us

Synthpoppers Sinestar return with their blistering third album…

Since forming in 2011, Bristol-born Sinestar have released 3 EPs entitled I am the Rain (2012), Hope and Prey (2013), Running Home (2014) and single ‘The Same Way’.

Now, exhibiting a firm staying power with sights in mind, rising above expectations and going beyond any given boundaries, creative or otherwise, A Million Like Us, their third and very latest album, is potentially a nominee for one of the key releases of 2018 – and not to be missed. Simply put, it’s an iconic offering that is set to be a must listen for many electronic music enthusiasts; the fact it dips into so many areas mean that as an album, it rarely misses a trick. Yet the fact it’s so incredibly stylised suggests it’s completely original – the sum of the parts delivering a consistent and weighty offering – electronic through and through – with twelve, mostly standout, tracks.

Although very difficult to liken them to any one artist, such expansive layers within the compositions themselves open up a diverse mix of potential influence, and granted, there’s plenty of echoes ranging from classic Synth Britannia to 1990s club anthems and beyond, and if that isn’t diverse enough, then try the reggae inspired ‘Smiling On The Inside’ – from the vocal straight through to its reverberated beats, the influence tastes as strong as a good rum. Synth washes are subtle in the background and are just enough to give it the necessary wrapping for its electro environment. ‘Testify’ momentarily has a touch of Ultravox’s ‘Hymn’, and a splash of Erasure while ‘Train Of Broken Dreams’ hurtles along the tracks right into the noughties. And given that Peter Steer of Tenek fame has joined the project, there is of course some obvious DNA in the mix; no surprise that Peter’s input on guitar and backing vocals is superb.

The opener and title track ‘A Million Like Us’ introduces itself as a tuneful, contemporary singalong with expansive hints from the dancefloor. It issues its stamp of individuality by merging modern-day vocal experiments against the dry ice and strobes. Urging towards the even more contemporary is ‘Recognise Me’, a track that settles into a fairly sedate, yet pleasing pop effort, before the mid-section is suddenly a shimmering assemblage of sounds – there are many waves that fill the space, so much so you can almost hear this simplistic template reworked as an intricate orchestral piece.

Above the parapet dares to come the urgency of ‘Lie On Lie’; think edgy guitars and slightly sinister synth while ‘A Moment Of Silence,’ presents an illustration of some of the finest production, with its fluid, intelligent form and travelling spirit. So many aspects of this track interact brilliantly and are perfectly harmonised, be it the beautifully cultivated piano sound and the space it occupies in the mix; subtle but magical with just the right amount of gentle melancholy, or, the lift created with the electro punctuation. Then there’s the vocal interplay set into the electronic expanse, teamed with its hypnotic wash of guitar break – a pure sea of emotion. Overall, it creates a tenderness you can almost cradle.

Elements of ‘Sea Of Dreams’ could emerge straight from a relaxation CD with its iridescent passages of beauty. It’s an enchanting backdrop that rises out of the mist with shimmering swathes of light and a picking up of tidal pace. It’s not alone in that ‘The Reason’ ebbs and flows along similar lines, for those who appreciate the more sedate side of Sinestar’s personality.


‘A Second In Your Arms’ is another nod to the anthemic and contains traces of Tenek and Soft Cell while ‘The Preacher’ is nothing short of exhilarating. The formula fuses masses of energy with an athletic bassline, a big tuneful chorus – one of immense vitality – and once again, those effective vocal contrasts really come into play. Finally, being placed firmly in energetic mode brings us to ‘Erotic Hypnotica’ – it’s a statement track that’s upfront and dynamic, doing everything possible to raise the temperature. Essential grit adds to its tough exterior, courtesy of a hugely effective guitar underlay against a positive flurry of notes from the keyboard – yet another huge chorus and consistent beat that works to maximum effect.

Interestingly, there are by far more ‘A’ sides than ‘B’ sides on this album, leaving one rather spoilt for choice in terms of single selection. That said, ‘The Preacher’, ‘Erotic Hypnotica’ and ‘A Moment of Silence’ would surely be worthy contenders given they’re immensely discernible tracks.

It’s always a notable achievement when an artist can morph influences, styles, fashions and even decades, and in addition, do it so well that the result is both seamless and original. Arguably this is what A Million Like Us does best; the result – a colourful, if not blinding fusion of modern European electro-pop that fuses the melodic and the exhilarating electronic with a modernistic dance-ability that is surely worthy of any night spot on the block. Much to the band’s credit, there are many moments of unique vocal arrangements here that create celebrated climaxes; big choruses that resonate strongly with melody and eloquently coupled with subtle effect, creating some diverse dimensions and excellent juxtaposition. It’s an interesting mood board derived from a palette so obviously close to the heart – enthusiasts of the genre won’t be disappointed.

A Million Like Us is out now on Conzoom Records.

TWIST HELIX – Ouseburn

Newcastle’s power-pop trio return…

Previously, electropop outfit Twist Helix had surprised us with the dramatic and uplifting vocal melodies of ‘Little Buildings’. Consisting of Bea Garcia (vocals & keyboards), Michael Humble (bass) and James Walker (drums) the Newcastle-based band signed to Madrid-based record label Paul Back Music on the strength of earlier release, the power pop tones of ‘Pulse’. Their reputation as a live band has also been built up via an exhaustive tour schedule.

Now the trio return with ‘Ouseburn’, the title track from their forthcoming album. As with the likes of ‘Little Buildings’, Twist Helix manage to craft euphoric compositions from often dour lyrical material. In this case, some social commentary on the changing landscape of Newcastle, with the focus in particular on the area of Ouseburn (“The changing industry/burying memories of Swan Hunter”).

Ouseburn by Twist Helix

As a band, Twist Helix have long taken an interest in the decline of local music scenes and creative communities. That interest has been weaved into a dystopian vision in much of their visual elements, particularly in the artwork for recent releases which shows the band members observing a broken world.

Meanwhile, ‘Ouseburn’ itself breathes engaging melodic hooks bolstered with Humble’s driving bass and Walker’s pounding percussion. But it’s the powerful vocals of Bea Garcia that gives Twist Helix’s latest outing the icing on the cake.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the trio have built up such a loyal following on the live circuit based on their knack for engaging melodic tunes. The band also embrace both electronic and traditional instrumentation to craft their sound. It’s something that the likes of Hot Pink Abuse pull off so well and illustrates, perhaps, that electronic music doesn’t have to be all fundamentalist about synths.

As with ‘Little Buildings’ before it, ‘Ouseburn’ demonstrates that Twist Helix continue to be a band to keep an eye on.

‘Ouseburn’ is out now on Paul Back Music.

Twist Helix perform at Dublin Castle, London tonight as part of their Below Byker tour. The tour continues in Bristol 22nd Feb, Worcester 23rd Feb, Manchester 24th Feb and Barnsley 28th Feb. Twist Helix are also performing at the Noisy Daughters event in Darlington on 3rd March and Spotlight Music: International Women’s Day Showcase on 8th March.

Full details and additional dates via:

Jóhann Jóhannsson 1969 – 2018

With the sad news that Icelandic musician and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has recently passed away comes the realisation that the work of this exceptional musician has been silenced forever. The shock of this revelation is also given greater impact by the young age at which he passed.

Born in Reykjavik, Jóhannsson developed an eclectic series of musical influences, including Suicide, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Kraftwerk, Neu! And Tangerine Dream. His interest in combining different genres and approaches saw him later explore the combination of classical arrangments with electronic music.

In the case of Jóhannsson’s first album Englabörn, he employed the use of string instruments processed through digital filters. But it was his 2006 album IBM 1401, A User’s Manual (inspired by his father’s work as an IBM technician) that put the Icelandic composer’s name on the map. Featuring haunting elements of vocal samples, as well as the melodic compositions that his father had produced using the IBM so many years previously, the album is bolstered by some striking string segments.

Jóhannsson subsequently went on to establish himself as film composer, scoring the likes of The Theory Of Everything, Sicario and Arrival. He had also been the orginal choice to score Blade Runner 2049.

Our sister site Wavegirl features an obituary that pays tribute to the passing of Jóhann Jóhannsson – and the loss of future music for many generations: Jóhann Jóhannsson Obituary.


The sultry charms of Fifi Rong awaken once again…

Having surprised listeners with the dynamic electropop of ‘The Same Road’ in 2017, Fifi Rong launches her latest EP Awake with a strong entry for 2018.

Originally hailing from Bejing, Fifi has crafted her own unique style as part of the London music scene (see our sister site J-Pop Go’s 2013 profile). Encompassing a broad range of influences, including electronica, dub and hip hop, the singer, songwriter and producer has already chalked up an impressive series of releases, from her 2013 debut single release ‘Over You, first album Wrong and a whole series of captivating EPs, including 2014’s Next Pursuit and 2016’s Forbidden Desire. Fifi also contributed to Tricky’s 2013 album False Idols and Skepta’s 2016 album Konnichiwa.

In 2016, Fifi also collaborated with Swiss electronic duo Yello on their last studio album Toy. More recently, she’s been out on tour with the pair. A venture which saw her performing to audiences across Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Awake follows on from a series of singles that Fifi has released, including the sultry delights of ‘Future Never Comes’; the electropop perfection of the aforementioned ‘The Same Road’ and the languid appeal of ‘The One’.

As ever, Fifi has built up a following via the successes of her various PledgeMusic campaigns. The crowdfunding initiative has delivered some of the musician’s finest moments over 5 previous campaigns – and it continues to be an essential weapon for a broad selection of contemporary music artists (Gary Numan, Erasure and OMD among them).

Describing the themes of the Awake EP, Fifi muses on the human condition: “Awake is about waking up to the truth after you have hypnotised yourself and deconstructing the paradoxes of human nature: subordination and rebellion, pain and joy, self-limitation and liberation.”

The EP also sees Fifi working alongside past collaborator Max Dingel (who worked with Fifi on ‘The Same Road’). Dingel has chalked up an impressive CV in the past, working alongside the likes of Goldfrapp, The Killers, White Lies and Muse among others.

On her latest outing, the title track sees Fifi continuing to explore a more pop-orientated direction. The polished melodic heft of ‘Awake’ is given a punchy delivery care of the busy percussive elements. “Loneliness tastes good” intones Fifi, her breathy vocals lending a mesmerising attraction to the composition.

Awake continues to demonstrate the sensual musical talents of Fifi Rong and suggests her future will be paved with many more polished music moments.

Awake is out 23rd February 2018.

LEGPUPPY – You Should Be Paranoid

Cultural commentary from the electronic anarchists…

Describing the inspiration for their new album You Should Be Paranoid, electro punk outfit LegPuppy include the western world’s obsession with narcissim, social media as an addiction, bio hacking and identity theft.

As evidenced by their live outings, LegPuppy are not your typical electronic outfit. Combining elements of theatre, grooves and social commentary, the combined talents of Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Pups and Hugo Bamboo managed to light up the live scene in 2017 in a way that few other acts could match.

Similarly, You Should Be Paranoid mixes in a broad selection of approaches and ideas that are often difficult to easily pigeonhole. With nods to trance, trip-hop and electropop the album could, under lesser talents, struggle to work as an album. But You Should Be Paranoid still manages to be a cohesive whole whose strengths are highlighted by some accomplished compositions. There’s still a rough garage punk aesthetic at work, but this works in the album’s favour.

The release of ‘Selfie Stick’ last year (which served as one of the precursers to You Should Be Paranoid) revealed an unsettling, brooding side to LegPuppy married with some relevant social commentary. It’s a tune that was dreamt up as an anthem of sorts for an ‘Age of Narcissism’ typified by social network culture – and pretty much nails its colours to the mast.

Similarly, ‘Black Light 15’ acknowledges the powerful addiction of social media. A bass-heavy synth line weaves through the composition that wears its trip-hop influences on its sleeve. There’s a hypnotic feel to the track which suggests falling into a fugue-state. Yet the track also offers up some nicely composed synth lines cut from the darker end of the electronic music spectrum.

Elsewhere, there’s more disturbing narratives at work. ‘Control’ draws from a story where a woman was almost burnt to death by a dominating boyfriend. Although it pulls in trance and (at times) wistful electropop elements, it’s a dark lyrical journey (“Didn’t want to play anymore/I picked you up from the floor”).

‘Silence 23’ (which features contributions from Eirēnē and Ceiling Demons) is a languid affair marked by a beguiling rhythm. Apparently inspired by a past life regression experience “involving Captain Pugwash, Turner & psychedelic paint brushes”, it’s a trippy number with buzzy electronic effects and a mesmeric vocal delivery.

‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ presents a dancepop outing that the band suggest is “Underworld meets Fleetwood Mac”. As opposed to the remixed version released last year, which had a more techno-based arrangement, the album mix is a much more simpler offering with the vocals more prominent in the mix. The lyrics deal in themes of feeling lost and confused (“like a rabbit caught in headlights/I don’t know which way to turn”) which may (or may not) have a pointed message inspired by prominent political leaders. That said, the song’s title is a reference to the “naughtiest thing” that Theresa May once confessed to…

‘Utopia (No Regrets)’ drops into dance music territory with a dubby layered approach and an ethereal vocal from Claire Jones. In a troubling political climate, it’s intriguing to see the idea of looking at potential utopias as a possible escape (it’s a theme that Austra also touched on last year).

There’s an odd beauty to ‘Leather’ with its torchsong-like vocals and melancholic guitar riffs. But the album returns to familiar themes on closing track ‘Paranoid’ with its ruminations on our online profiles and the proliferation of scams and identity theft. The unsettling tones of this final composition manage to induce ideas of anxiety and suspicion before closing out with a charming (and unexpected) music box melody.

You Should Be Paranoid presents a timely album that successfully manages to combine a broad base of musical styles with cultural (and often witty) commentary. In an Age of Narcissism, it’s the only album of choice.

You Should Be Paranoid is out 2nd February 2018.

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LegPuppy are performing at Presents: The New Wave of Waveform 24th February and Synthetic City London on 24th March.


Electropop trio bounce back with synth-fuelled goodness…

Chvrches have unveiled a new tune in the form of ‘Get Out’, which paves the way for the release of their forthcoming new album.

Formed in Glasgow in 2011 by Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, Chvrches have established an impressive musical career founded on polished pop tunes. Their debut 2012 release ’The Mother We Share’ demonstrated that electronic pop had a place in modern music without relying on a retro approach or being a pastiche of older bands.

Their new outing appears to have all the elements of their classic kinetic electropop in place. There’s a buzzy rhythm track augmented with some clean percussive fills and Mayberry’s clear vocals front and centre.

Chvrches’ new release also marks a collaboration with Grammy award-winning producer Greg Kurstin. In the past, Kurstin has chalked up work with an impressive resume of artists that includes the likes of Lana Del Rey, Sia, Adele, Little Boots, Marina And The Diamonds and Lykke Li. “Working with Greg was so different to what we’d done before” suggests Lauren Mayberry, “but it also felt so comfortable and like he’d been in our band forever.”

‘Get Out’ marks the first release from the Scottish trio’s forthcoming third album Love Is Dead. Work on the album, which was also produced by Greg Kurstin, kicked off in February last year and follows on from their 2015 album Every Open Eye.

With Chvrches back in action, 2018 is shaping up to be a particularly good year for electronic music.