La Roux is back. A long-awaited 5 years on from her record-smashing debut, the iconic and perfectly-quiffed Elly Jackson has once again channelled her ultra-modern ‘Annie Lennox meets 80’s Synth’ vibe and stormed the UK album chart with ‘Trouble in Paradise’.
The Grammy award winning singer/songwriter left her fans patiently waiting since her self-titled first album which reached number 2 in the charts; but with promise that her sequel was sexier, more poetic and encompassing an overall more mature vibe, we didn’t mind! With rumours of anxiety attacks and a short throat cancer scare, the gap between releases isn’t unjust. But with a small spell of quiet gigs and collaborations in between with greats such as Niall Rogers, it’s no wonder Elly has returned with a sound much greater than the tinny days of ‘In for the Kill.
Her bright, sharp, and instantly recognisable sound is echoed as soon as you hit play. You know it’s La Roux from the first 2 bars! With only 9 tracks, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ needed to be crisp, defined, with every track appealing to her ever-increasing audience. The tempos is slower, the tone more relaxed, and her mellowed use of instruments and post-production gives it a more natural feel compared to the very electronic sounds of La Roux, reminding us that her music includes real instruments and not just computer generated sounds.
Many of the tracks cover pretty relatable issues, with sexuality apparent in many. Her songs feel like a story as you listen to them, and this adds to the flow of the album overall. The mix of sentimental tunes like ‘Silent Partner’ and ‘Let Me Down Gently’, with upbeat and almost anthemic ‘Tropical Cancer’ make a cocktail of audible pleasure. Vocally – Elly has progressed too, from her ultrasonic ‘Bulletproof’ days to a breathier, more human vocal range which portray the lyrics of her tracks in a more comfortable listen. Clever lexis and the coining of new words such as ‘Sexotheque’ give the more upbeat songs a flirty and fun demeanour, but ‘Upright Downtown’ is a sure favourite of mine with catchy melodies and that ‘I’ve heard this somewhere before’ familiarity.
The accustomed sound of ‘Paradise’ is a burden, though, as well as a benefit. At first listen, the tracks seem to flow cohesively with one another, but after 4 or 5 tracks, I realised that they all just sound a bit too similar! There is no shock factor to this album – something which her first release delivered in abundance. Whether it’s because we’ve become immune to La Roux’s sound as listeners by now, or because the album is a little ‘safe’ – I am still undecided.
Completing this album as a solo project after producer, Ben Langmaid, left hasn’t had a detrimental effect at all. In fairness, the raw emotion of Elly’s sole influence probably aids the less technical sound delivered in ‘Paradise’. Though La Roux may never be to everyone’s taste – it’s still probably one of the best pop album’s you’ll hear all summer! Download it now from iTunes or PlayStore.