It has been eleven years since La Roux tore into our aural landscape with their self titled LP, bringing 80s synth and soft, silken vocals to our late-2000’s dance floors. It came as part of an avalanche of incredible musical debuts, and the soundtrack of far too many bad decisions and suspiciously forgotten nights in clubs that were altogether too sticky.
Supervision marks their third album, and immediately presents itself as a continuation of the softer and more introspective style from Ellie Jackson seen in 2014’s Trouble In Paradise. Opening with ‘21st Century’ and the slow 80s swagger that has become her trademark. It’s a safe start to the album for fans, and captures the same mood with ease. If only it altered a bit from that point on.
It sounds very much like the drumbeat and tempo from the first track remain the constant throughout the entire album. That isn’t true, of course, but listening in its entirety causes every track to mostly blur into one long song with only a couple of standout exceptions. But, you need to get through the lacklustre ‘Do You Feel’ and ‘Automatic Driver’ to get there.
The first standout is the sauntering ‘International Woman of Leisure’, which struts its way into your ears with a confidence missing from elsewhere on the album. The little electric guitar strumming out a little melody over the hook of a chorus with just enough repetition to sear it into your head. It doesn’t end as strong as it begins, but gives a slither of what’s missing in Supervision.
The other headliner here is the following track, ‘Everything I Live For’. Stepping back from the previous brilliantly confident four minutes this is a more heartfelt affair. The more upbeat feel of the track is overlaid with the softly breathed lyrics of what is an unmistakeable break-up song. It’s precisely this sort of mix of moods that have been strengths of La Roux and is mostly missing here.
Unfortunately it’s all downhill from there. ‘Otherside’ targets the confidence found earlier in the album and just misses the mark. It has an arguably pretty damn fine melody, but doesn’t grab the listener with anything more than that. The lyrics are seemingly aiming at something more sultry than other songs on the album, but they come across as kind of flat sadly.
Then, ‘He Rides’ and ‘Gullible Fool’ close out the album in a pleasant but ultimately forgettable way. In fact, these two songs are so similar in tone that on the first few listens through the album you might mistake two tracks for one here. It’s a shame that an album this short doesn’t grab you as much as it should, and ends in such an underwhelming way.
Supervision is a decent collection of distinctly summery vibes, but, we should expect more from Jackson by the third outing. The absolute gems that can be found here are overshadowed by the monotony that surrounds them, and this album isn’t long enough to have so few standouts.
This being said, the alternate Tyler; the Creator remix of ‘Automatic Driver’ is a bonafide beauty. Look it up, honestly, it improves so much of that song.