Ladytron's Synth Life

These Brits make new wave music for a new generation

Electronic music seems technological, and people think girls aren't as good at math," says Ladytron's Mira Aroyo. "But I've always been pretty good at math. Some of our synths even have flow charts on them. They're really cute. They look good and sound good."

Much like the Liverpool quartet itself. The group showcases austere keyboard buzzing, mechanized beats and the robot-vixen vocals of Aroyo and Helen Marnie, and they dress in matching black uniforms that make them look like unusually cosmopolitan auto mechanics. "I didn't want to wear frilly clothes and asymmetric makeup," sneers Aroyo, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in genetics at Oxford University.

The group's co-founders, Danny Hunt and Reuben Wu, met at Liverpool University in 1998 and quickly discovered a mutual affinity for the vintage synthesizer. At the time, Hunt was building a home studio filled with his collection of Seventies and Eighties analog synths; the band now has more than twenty. But Ladytron say the medium is not the message: Their goal is to make music as lovely and droll as the Franqoise Hardy and Lee Hazlewood songs they love.

So their second album, Light and Magic, is more than just an anthology of cool sounds - the coy, sinister "Seventeen" is a ready-made dance-floor anthem, with a winning hook and unexpectedly gloomy lyrics. ("They only want you when you're seventeen," sings Marnie. "When you're twenty-one, you're no fun.") Says Hunt, "We don't want our music to remind anyone of anything."