La Roux’s Elly Jackson seemed like a one-hit wonder. Releasing her self-titled debut back in 2009, which earned her hits with ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In for the Kill’, she soon vanished into the ether, never to show her trademark red quiff again. But huzzah! Like a neon siren stepping out from the mist, La Roux is back and even better than before.
Trouble in Paradise feels genuine, that’s the most obvious characteristic from the bat. As soon as those vibrato synths herald the start of single ‘Uptight Downtown’, you can just tell that Jackson is in her element. Not only does it sound more holistic than her debut, Trouble in Paradise sounds unique and authentic. Whereas Jackson’s first record more often than not felt stale and hashed out, her follow-up feels like this is what she intended to craft in the first place.
From the subtle use of guitar in opener ‘Uptight Downtown’ (reminiscent of Daft Punk fixtures), to the piano in downbeat ‘Paradise is You’, Jackson is clearly experimenting with a broader range of both instruments and sounds. Compared to its older sibling, Trouble in Paradise thrives on both variety and softness. Whereas La Roux could sometimes be bold but obnoxious with its use of synths, its follow-up blooms with warm and delightful little jolts. This doesn’t mean that Jackson’s music is any less catchy, if anything, there are more memorable songs on Trouble in Paradise as a whole; ‘Kiss and Not Tell’ invades your mind with its infectious melodies, and ‘Let Me Down Gently’ makes you want to bellow out its lyrics, hairbrush in hand.
Arguably Trouble in Paradise’s best track is perhaps the most absurdly named. ‘Sexotheque’ is a fantastic pop song; with its story bemoaning the antics of a sex-obsessed fiend and a chorus so ridiculously confident it’s glorious. Yet confidence is a confusing concept for Trouble in Paradise’s La Roux; on the one hand, Jackson sings of anxieties surrounding her sexuality (‘Cruel Sexuality) and emotional security (‘Let Me Down Gently’), and yet her music screams surety.
However, the record isn’t entirely consistent in quality. The majority of ‘Silent Partner’ feels rather lack-lustre; with questionable lyrical creativity and the chorus repeating one too many times, it’s best to wait until song’s extended electro-outro for the real treat. Final song ‘The Feeling’ is also a disappointment, with messy composition and overwhelming vocals ending the record on an unfortunate low note.
Nevertheless, Trouble in Paradise is a success; a mixture of harsh electronica and tangy disco pop, shaken-up with some sweet reggae making a deliciously refreshing cocktail. That La Roux now looks startlingly like the Thin White Duke himself is no surprise, because this new Elly Jackson is stepping out of the shadows in stylish fashion; Trouble in Paradise is a damn classy and sophisticated pop record.
Trouble in Paradise was released by Polydor on the 21st July.