Album Review: La Roux – Trouble In Paradise

Modern synthpop has long been long been associated with one figure. Or duo in this case. Consisting of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid, La Roux has longed filled the void of glittery 80s synthesisers within the chart. With dominators In for the Kill and Bulletproof behind themselves, alongside the accomplishment of a Grammy award, the pair was quick to establish themselves as a vigorous force. With an absence lasting five years, second album Trouble In Paradise represents La Roux’s return, but notably with a change. Following the departure of Langmaid (who co-write five songs before his exit because of musical differences), Trouble In Paradise exhibits Jackson’s ventures as a now solo artist, showcasing her spiralling into a set of new sounds and directions.

The synthesisers spring to life with disco-fuelled Uptown Downtown. Awash with disco guitar and bass riffs coming to meet with echoing brass synths, from the start it’s clear that La Roux have set a new musical path. A sexier sound (as described by Jackson herself), more sophisticated pop and accounts of different situations about love place the foundations for the latest personality of La Roux.

Diversity is something which the album certainly doesn’t lack though. Weaving and twisting through explorations of experimentation with synthesisers, accompanied by Jackson’s heart wrenching vocals has allowed expansion and progression upon their sound. With chirpy, bubbly songs such as Kiss and Not Tell and Sexotheque, slightly darker adventures with Lay Me Down Gently (a classic 1980s love ballad such Mister Mister’s Broken Wings)and Cruel Sexuality (reminiscent of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love) and electro-reggae-funk song Tropical Chancer, this has been clearly displayed. Most distinctly recognisable however is the introduction of the heavy, dominant bass sounds that La Roux’s first album missed. The arrival of these sounds stimulates the tone of each song, instantly portraying which emotion it will be following.

Paradise Is You pushes itself to become one of the peaks of the album. Reiterating her passionate love and emotion (similar to a Paloma Faith song), companioned with enduring string synthesisers displays how far La Roux have advanced since their beginnings in 2009.

Silent Partner feels an odd choice to be included. Pulling La Roux’s sound backwards rather than forwards, the song could have suited itself better being included upon their first album. Starting out with a synthesiser riff that sounds like it could have been pulled from a 1980s computer game and pretty much remaining with that sound, it feels as if the evolution of their sound is disappointedly lost within this song.

Closing with The Feeling, it provides a calming, soothing come down to the album. After an album full of energetic and powerful electronic sounds, this feels the perfect pick to end with, complete with atmospheric synthesisers to provide the conclusion. Trouble in Paradise is certainly a definitive point for La Roux, showing that dedication and consideration has played a role in the development of their sound. As a result of their five years absence, La Roux have produced a distinctive and appealing twist on the 1980s synthpop sound.

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