With each album, Ladytron take their sound in distinctly different directions, but the aloof, glamorous, slightly sinister and more than a little bittersweet heart of their music remains the same. The changes from 604's sweet synth pop to Light & Magic's dark electro-pop to Witching Hour's epic shoegaze didn't sound like dabbling, precisely because the band has such a strong grip on exactly what they want to express with their music. Ladytron haven't lost that grip on Velocifero; in fact, they may be holding on to it a little too strongly here. Massive and sparkling, as dark and glossy as black patent leather, the album is so sleek, so quintessentially Ladytron, that it almost feels like the band has their sound literally down to a science, fusing Light & Magic's hard-edged dance and Witching Hour's Wall of Sound into songs like "The Lovers," "Deep Blue," and "They Gave You a Name."
Velocifero does have some inspired moments, particularly at the beginning. "Ghosts" is sweetly ominous, riding a stomping shuffle beat and a careening guitar solo as Helena Marnie puts a fine point on her regrets ("There's a ghost in me/who wants to say I'm sorry/Doesn't mean I'm sorry"). "Runaway"'s punchy, cavernous sound recalls the heyday of industrial dance, which may not be such a surprise, considering that former Nine Inch Nails contributor Alessandro Cortini (also of Modwheelmood) worked on Velocifero, along with Ed Banger's Vicarious Bliss. As always, Mira Aroya acts as the acerbic yang to Marnie's ethereal yin, and she's in fine form here, particularly on "Black Cat," which opens Velocifero with a darkly hypnotic groove and a canyon-deep bassline, and on the quirky "Kletva," a cover of a song from a Bulgarian children's movie that brings back some of the playfulness Ladytron largely abandoned after 604. However, as Velocifero unfolds, the songs aren't quite as memorable as they've been on previous albums, and a few ("Burning Up," "Tomorrow") are downright dull and repetitive. The taut, tribal "Predict the Day" and "Versus," a symphonic synth pop duet, close the album on a strong note, and there are more than enough bright spots for fans to enjoy, Overall, though, Velocifero isn't as dramatic a step forward as Ladytron's other albums.