They only want you when you're seventeen. When you're twenty-one, you're no fun.

Ladytron's 604 was well and good, but bands have to grow. With 604 unfortunately grouped into "electroclash", I'm sure the release of Light & Magic was a little surprising for some people.

The sound of the CD is much fuller. The near-minimalism of 604 is absent, replaced by more layers of synth goodness and... is that a guitar?! There is definitely a wider range of sounds than the last album, but it's all safe to classify as synthpop.

Track Listing:

  1. True Mathematics (2:22)
    Opening with swooshes (for the lack of a better word), a base line evolves soon enough into a track that seems pulled out of an 80s russian bulgarian spy movie.
  2. Seventeen (4:37)
    Resist this song. I fucking dare you. You will listen to this song and it will be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. Helen's whispery singing will haunt you. Mira's echo only accentuates the pleasure. The only negative thing I've heard anyone say about this song is that it's nothing but a chorus... and it is. As if that's a bad thing? XTina, Britanny, Paris-- eat your heart out. This is pop the way it should be.
  3. Flicking Your Switch (3:26)
    Only slightly less infectious than the previous track (and only because it's more downbeat), this song seems to be musings about a relationship. Or a calculator.
  4. Fire (2:49)
    This song sounds different than the entire CD to me. It's not out of place, but it's jarring.
  5. Turn It On (4:46)
    Bring in the vocoders. Very nearly an instrumental track.
  6. Blue Jeans (4:13)
    Well, songs don't have to make sense for them to be good songs. This track is a little floaty to me.
  7. Cracked LCD (2:32)
    I sometimes want to listen to this song forever. The song paints a picture of... of something that seems significant, but we can't see what it is. The lyrics are a major part of my theory that Ladytron exists in a perpetual state of winter, though. "Back to summertime \ It was almost six months to the day"-- what does that say to you?
  8. Black Plastic (4:17)
  9. Evil (5:34)
    On the CD, this just sounds like a quirky song, but it becomes very sinister when it's performed live.
  10. Startup Chime (3:30)
    Just crashes down into something strange and wonderful.
  11. Nuhorizons (4:03)
    This is the only track on this CD that manages to bore me. It's too repetative and droning. It's not bad, it's just underwhelming.
  12. Cease2xist (4:37)
    Breathy. Compelling. The song seems very fleeting and momentary and fanciful.
  13. Re: Agents (4:53)
    Finally, a song that I can really make sense of. Imagine a cheezy spy movie filled with clich├ęs and improbably gadgets; you know the kind. This song is like that. It's very easy to imagine Helen as a spy femme fatale, expertly navigating the sleazy underground of East Berlin or something.
  14. Light & Magic (3:35)
    I have big expectations when I listen to a song with the same title as the CD, and this song delivers. The singing is wintery, the echoes are Miratastic, and the whole thing is infectious. Utterly impossible to dance to, of course. Unless you're a weirdo.
  15. The Reason Why (4:15)
    And, of course, you have the last song of the CD. There's just something about this song that makes it appropriate to be at the end.

Just like 604, later versions of the CD come with bonus tracks. The first and last bonus tracks are remixes of Seventeen and Evil, respectively. I am sorry to say that these are utterly unlistenable. Absolute and total murder, unless you're going for horror comedy. And then it's an unlistenable success. In between those two are 2 more recordings from the same concert in Sofia,Bulgaria as the 604 live recordings. Cracked LCD's live sound is really great, but Light & Magic is the real star. Mira sounds very serious and a little evil, which gives it an entirely new dimension. You will also notice the little bleeps and boops at the end of the live tracks... that's exactly how it is. Random bleeping and booping (and in one case, the raw sound of winter) permiate the space between songs.

Yes, Virginia, there are videos. Blue Jeans, Evil, and Seventeen to be precise. Blue Jeans has prominent guitars, and they're played by Daniel. Mira is wearing a ton of eyeliner and the camera is just whooshing everywhere. Evil has some weird story attached to it, I think, because I'm definitely missing something from it. There's an archaeologist rushing into a museum to examine a tapestry, which eventually comes to life. The Seventeen video is beauty, though. There are all these conservatively uniformed schoolgirls dancing around in a room. They're being taken away one by one. Behind a one-way glass is Ladytron playing their Korgs and singing their voodoo.