Ladytron couldn't have chosen a better title for their seventh album than Time's Arrow. The future becoming the past becoming the future again is a familiar cycle to them: When the band started in the late '90s, they evoked synth pop's first heyday in the '80s; more than 20 years later, their music still sounded fresh. In the best possible way, Ladytron's triumphant self-titled 2019 album felt like it recombined their body of work with a pleasant sense of déjà vu. On Time's Arrow, they imbue their music with bittersweet commentary, expressing the tricks that nostalgia and memories play on the heart and mind with songs that seem to stop time in its tracks. They still echo themselves, albeit more subtly, as they create illusions of permanence like "City of Angels," which channels the eternal summer of Los Angeles with a heavy throb and intricate layers of synths and vocals akin to Witching Hour's "Sugar," or "We Never Went Away," which could almost pass for a slower reincarnation of Light & Magic's "Blue Jeans." However, the expansive passages, stately tempos, and thematic cohesion of Time's Arrow may be most closely linked to Gravity the Seducer, and Ladytron's willingness to slow down and reflect makes for some standout moments. "Misery Remember Me" captures the need to be remembered, and the inevitability of being forgotten, with glassy guitars and soaring vocals that would do the Cure and Cocteau Twins proud. On "The Dreamers," Ladytron make the most of their flair for apocalyptic romance, crafting a slow dance while the world burns. The emphasis on mood leads to gorgeously drifting moments such as "The Night," but whenever Time's Arrow seems like it might get swept away entirely, the band anchors it with quintessential synth pop like "Faces" or the title track, which brings the album to a close with a sardonic memento mori. With Ladytron, the band proved they could more than hold their own with the like-minded acts who sprang up in their wake. The thought and skill they put into Time's Arrow, however, could only come from years of perspective and experience.

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