Album review: La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
PUBLISHED: 13:30 30 July 2014
Everyone's favourite bequiffed dance-pop delight is back - and giving it both barrels on this sophomore LP.
The debut album for Elly Jackson, the face of dance-pop duo La Roux, bagged her and cohort Ban Langmaid a Grammy across the pond and sold two million worldwide, back when the then 21-year-old was still living with her parents.
Spending time on this follow-up, creative differences saw her part ways with Langmaid, and what has eventually come out of it is warmer and more expansive than its predecessor.
The precision, propulsive beats and synths that defined her debut do crop up (choppy, poppy opener Uptight Downtown would sit comfortably with her five-year-old material), but by and large her voice is softer, her defences lower than on the defiant, thrusting high watermark of Bulletproof.
This new-found vulnerability is most apparent in the slow-burning Let Me Down Gently, in which she sings “I hope it doesn’t seem that I’m young, foolish and green” and wailing trumpets recall the heyday of ‘80s electro-pop. It is her best offering here, hinting at a maturing, reflective and more adventurous artist.
The music, too, is more organic and varied. There’s calypso bounce (the fizzy, primary colours of Kiss And Not Tell), funk guitar (on Cruel Sexuality) and wispy, ethereal synth strands and multi-tracked vocals (Paradise Is You) that make for an engaging nine-song set.
She lets tracks run on (the longest, the Langmaid-baiting Silent Partner, clocks in at seven minutes) but they evolve rather than outstay their welcome.
Trouble... confirms there’s far more to Jackson than androgynous looks and ice-queen assertions.
Rating: 4/5 stars