Softcore Jukebox

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The somewhat provocatively named and packaged mix album Softcore Jukebox offers some of the origins and contemporaries of Ladytron's stylish sound, encompassing new wave, post-punk, dream pop, dance-pop, and electronica. It's not surprising that a group that makes such sleekly tasteful sounds also has impeccable taste in music, and the mix reflects this not only in its tracks but its sequencing as well. My Bloody Valentine's sublime "Soon" and Fannypack's ridiculous but undeniably fun "Hey Mami" don't automatically appear to be likely mix mates, but with songs like the Fall's "Hit the North, Pt. 1" and the Fat Truckers' campy "Teenage Daughter" in between, it makes sense. Softcore Jukebox is a nicely balanced collection, moving from more rock-oriented songs like Wire's "The 15th" and Ladytron's own guitar-enhanced "Blue Jeans 2.0" to more dance-oriented tracks like Seelenluft's "Manila" and Codec & Flexor's "Crazy Girls." The collection also features its fair share of obscurities, chief among them Cristina's "What's a Girl to Do," a cheerfully creepy bit of early-'80s synth pop, and Shocking Blue's "Send Me a Postcard," one of the group's follow-ups to its hit "Venus." Shout-outs to Ladytron's U.K. labelmates on Invicta Hi-Fi appear in the form of the sleek Gallic electronica of Dondolo's "Peng," the electro-pop of Snap Ant's "Saviour Piece," and Pop Levi's exotica-tinged "Twins." While Softcore Jukebox is rather lengthy at 77 minutes, this multi-tasking collection -- which manages to be a mix album, an Invicta Hi-Fi mini-sampler, and a brief history of post-punk, dream pop, and dance -- is consistently entertaining.

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