La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
Welcome back Elly Jackson, aka La Roux. Where on earth have you been? Five years after the out-of-nowhere megasmashes of ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In For The Kill’, she of the killer red quiff returns with a much talked about follow up, Trouble In Paradise. That most of the talking has been done by Jackson herself has only made the wait feel more laborious, and strange.
Originally scheduled for 2012, re-writes are said to be behind the two year delay but no-one knows the real reasons, or how many revisions the music has been through. In the meantime she’s been coming to terms with fame, and getting rid of the other half of the band. Again, not much has really been said but Ben Langmaid is no longer involved in La Roux. So where does that leave things?
The album is here, at last, but is it a new direction? No, not at first listen. If that seems a bit non-committal that’s because the answer changes subtly as the album progresses. Lead single ‘Uptight Downtown’ could have been taken from the eponymous debut, then ‘Kiss And Not Tell’ and ‘Sexual Cruelty’ come and go. So far so La Roux. Then ‘Paradise Is You’ arrives and brings a modicum of subtlety with it; if you remember 2009 then you’ll know subtlety wasn’t high on the list of attributes. And it seems catching; it’s like someone dialled down the La Roux-ness of it all, ‘Sexotheque’ is catchy and playful, ‘Tropical Chancer’ is a funky, sultry groove. ‘Let Me Down Gently’ is pleading, almost desperate.
You could point to a lack of big tunes, there’s certainly no ‘Bulletproof’ here, but it’s actually more balanced. Maybe it’s because she struck out on her own, but Jackson has done what you’d want with her follow up: more of the same but evolved, more accomplished, more contained, but still expressive (check out the rumbling seven minutes of ‘Silent Partner’). A triumph then, but a quiet confident one, not brash and loud. A new La Roux after all.