La Roux’s ‘Trouble In Paradise’: Album Review

Kathy Iandoli | July 22, 2014 7:10 am
La Roux’s first real dose of success was comparable to the Big Bang Theory (the actual theory — not the hit TV show). In 2009, the UK outfit (then comprised of one Ms. Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid) dropped their self-titled debut album. The project had a handful of proverbial bangers, but it wasn’t until 2010 that La Roux really popped. Cut to the episode of Entourage where Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) was being led down a rugged path by porn star Sasha Grey, and they find him passed out in a drug-induced coma on the side of his built-in pool. The closing credits played DJ Skream’s remix of La Roux’s “In For The Kill.”

Sure, the original version manifested itself in the form of many a commercial, but that remix fell into the hands of hip-hop and became rappers’ fodder. The track was wildly remixed and sampled by everyone from The Game to Khloe Kardashian‘s bae French Montana. The winning bidder, though, was the other Kardashian beau, Kanye West, who landed on the official remix. That’s all a roundabout way of saying that the five-year wait for a second La Roux album has been an arduous one, considering how once La Roux arrived, they really arrived.

Trouble In Paradise marks the much needed return of a now solo dolo Elly Jackson, filled with smoother melodies and bubbly production, yet lyrical poignancy.

While big on harmonies, La Roux’s eponymous debut was still arguably robotic, a testament to the direction of electronic music in 2009 (think Daft Punk). Paradise is categorically different in that respect, considering Elly’s vocals are more layered, providing this ethereal feel, as evidenced by the fluid “Paradise Is You.” Langmaid’s DNA is still scattered on the nine-track work (as is Ian Sherwin‘s), with the exception of two songs: the Joan Jett channeling “Silent Partner” and Elly’s one-woman show on the plush “The Feeling.” Now that Langmaid has left the group, these two songs are our only indicator of what Elly might sound like on La Roux’s third album. Lyrically the words are still a dramatic contrast to the production, where even the darkest lyrics are blanketed by a happy-go-lucky beat. If you’re not actually hearing what Elly is saying, you would assume she’s always at a party. Listen carefully.

The singles released thus far are also a good glimpse into La Roux’s sonic direction this time around: from the ’80s-sounding power ballad “Let Me Down Gently” to the album’s upbeat opener “Uptight Downtown” and the electro-ska (if that’s a thing) “Tropical Chancer,” which sounds like the greatest song Ace Of Base never released. The sounds are different in their own ways, yet there’s a thread of similarity that weaves itself tightly around the entire project. It’s cohesive, sending a nod to the past while preparing us all for the future. We really don’t know what the future will actually hold for La Roux, so keep Trouble In Paradise close. While Elly Jackson is definitely a fixture, her sound can make a hard left now that all bets are off. Then it will be Paradise lost.

Best Song That Wasn’t the Single: The sweetly seductive “Sexotheque,” that pairs a fun sound bed with Elly’s cutesy coos.

Best Listened To: While adding “sexotheque” to Webster’s dictionary, because it deserves to be an actual word.

Idolator Score: 4/5

Kathy Iandoli

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