La Roux’s début album went to No 2 in the UK when it was released in 2009. The duo, comprising of the young and androgynous Elly Jackson and her musical partner Ben Langmaid, created a record that was synthpop heaven.
Now working completely solo, Jackson has free rein over the flavour of her music. The result of going it alone is her sublime new album, Trouble in Paradise.
Even before her success, her first love in musical terms was 1980’s pop. This influence is more than present on this release. If the bold and brashly coloured album cover is not enough to give this away, the music is.
Opening with the album’s first single, Uptight Downtown, it is obvious that La Roux has gone for a much more neo-disco flavour on Trouble in Paradise than the previous album. Reminiscent of Laura Branigan and Kelly Marie Roux, this song is an excellent opener and gives a great taste of things to come.
Next up is the fun and sprightly Kiss and Not Tell, which has a very childlike, almost nursery-rhyme quality to it.
La Roux has managed to glide over the pit that many artists have fallen into. The 1980s element in modern music has been exploited perhaps a little more than it should have been over the past few years, making that sweet synthpop flavour a little hard to savour, much like that last toffee penny in a three-month-old Quality Street tin. However, La Roux has found a way to make Trouble in Pardise as fresh as a daisy, while still maintaining the moody and fun hooks of the 1980s.
The Motels-esque Let Me Down Gently is an exceptional song. Beginning as a sultry ballad, it suddenly bursts into a moody, reverberating disco track.
Jackson teases the audience about her ambiguous sexual orientation on Cruel Sexuality, singing “I don’t even know myself”. Reggae makes an unexpected appearance on Tropical Chancer, and the record’s closer, The Feeling, sounds like a futuristic Pretenders track.
Trouble in Paradise is, by far, the strongest album released this year by a British artist. A fine return to form by a fine and unique singer.