Allow me to be honest here: I love Ladytron. They have shaped my musical taste and contributed to my obsession for analog synth sounds, distorted noises and overall electronic music alongside Crystal Castles, The Knife and TR/ST. I heard ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ and ‘International Dateline’ numerous times at a goth matiné I used to go to in Lisbon back in the day. When I was unable to attend their sold-out show in 2008 at Lux Frágil for the Velocifero tour, I tried to convince myself that they would come back. I was wrong, they never did. Shortly after a hiatus was declared and later came their big reunion in 2011 with Gravity The Seducer.

The closest we can get to Ladytron nowadays is through Helen Marnie’s solo project. In a first attempt to act alone, Marnie released Crystal Worlds in 2013. Inspired by natural elements as well as atmospheric and hazy environments, her sound somehow got stuck to the Ladytron palette. Maybe her voice will always be ‘the voice’ of the Liverpool-born synth pop band, and it’s a crutch that needs to disappear.

Struggling with becoming Marnie the solo artist, the singer relocated from London back to Glasgow in 2012, where she was able to find the right environment for her creativity to thrive again. She is now ready to embrace another attempt into artistic fulfillment. If Crystal Worlds was an atmospheric and melodic tale and her most personal work to date, Strange Words and Weird Wars shows a side of Helen Marnie that we’ve been wanting to see. However, her direction somehow falls into a sonic territory Alison Goldfrapp fooled around with when she released Head First in 2010, with plenty of in your face’ 80’s pop references.

Let’s get something straight: there’s absolutely nothing wrong about going pop. It can even work in one’s favour. Marnie told The 405 early last month: “I’m unashamedly pop now. Take it or leave it.” We agree with her, because Strange Words and Weird Wars is an attempt to break the club-friendly electronic pattern that has followed Helen Marnie since the beginning. She wants to go big, poppy and fun.

‘Alphabet Block’ is an epic and clever banger, and very suitable for an album opener. It sets the mood for what lays ahead. ‘G.I.R.L.S’ is a fast-paced track in which the kicks draw a beat that recreates a cheerleading teenage fantasy, and there’s definitely no lack of chants, claps and bubblegum pop in this one. ‘Electric Youth’ and ‘A Girl Walks Home At Night’ go together as they work as an emotional bridge to ‘Lost Maps’, the obvious hit song of this new album. As a whole, the first half is rich in dancefloor-friendly and word-play tracks. As for the second half, only ‘Little Knives’ stands out amongst the remaining ones that hide behind the predictable.

Strange Words and Weird Wars is a valid attempt for Marnie to break the shackles that hold her to her past with Ladytron. It’s a strong effort towards her musical independence but it somehow falls into the predictability loop and adds nothing to what was already expected. If her goal was to shine into mainstream pop stardom, this might not be it.