La Roux, Trouble in Paradise, album review: 'supremely self-assured'

 

Hugh Montgomery
Monday 21 July 2014 17:09
Comments
Slow-burning epic: Let Me Down Gently by La Roux
Slow-burning epic: Let Me Down Gently by La Roux

This isn’t the way it’s meant to go. Back in the mists of pop time, aka 2009, singer Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid, aka La Roux, led a wave of 1980s synth-pop fetishisation with a couple of sleek hits and a lesser album. But when it came to following it up, delay followed delay, Jackson split from Langmaid, and the charts moved on to 1990s house fetishisation. It seemed safe to assume that La Roux’s future lay as a pub quiz answer (“or was it Little Boots?”)

What a wonder this is then: a supremely self-assured work from the now-solo Jackson that sees the temperature rising, to quote opener “Uptight Downtown”. Gone is the chilly retro-futurism of yore, replaced by a lissom tropical-pop sound, complete with funk guitar, calypso rhythms and love among the palm trees. Indeed, it’s the full aural package holiday, ranging from the the Club Tropicana kitsch of “Kiss and Not Tell”, to the sunset-primed chillout ballad “Paradise is You”.

It’s no mere summer sojourn, though: the vacation vibe belies Jackson’s exquisite craftmanship. Which is to say songs continue to stretch and bend beyond their killer choruses: see “Cruel Sexuality”, which begins as a jaunty funk number but turns unexpectedly tortured via a claustrophobic, clubby middle-eight. Or “Let Me Down Gently”: a fragile electro-torch song that builds into a euphoric, cathartic barnstormer, complete with skyscraping sax solo.

At only nine tracks long, but with every one of them worthy of single status, it displays, as pop albums go, both rare economy and staggering consistency.

Sorry Ms Jackson, we know you’re for real.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in