Saturday, August 16, 2014

Album Review: "Trouble In Paradise" by La Roux

I have been noticing more and more that 2014 is a comeback year for a lot of major pop acts from five years ago. I mean Danity Kane and Hilary Duff came back to us this year. Obviously, the pop gods are being merciful this time around and they have truly blessed us by giving us La Roux's sophomore album Trouble In Paradise. That lovely image above shows Elly Jackson casually posing with the best filter on a photo since their debut album came out in 2009. And boy, it's been quite some time hasn't it?

La Roux's self-titled debut album is one of the greatest albums of the millennium mainly because it was so far ahead of its time. Every time you listen to it, it always excites and captivates, and for once the world took notice. La Roux was catapulted to international stardom and even snagged some Grammys in the process. But back then, La Roux had been a duo, with producer Ben Langmaid creating the amazing soundscapes for Jackson's voice to inhabit.

Unfortunately, it looks like the two had a rather huge falling out which resulted in some harsh words being said on both parties and La Roux becoming a solo project for Elly. After promo single "Let Me Down Gently" appeared out of nowhere, it was a little confusing to figure out what kind of sound La Roux had spent so long creating. There was talk of creating a "sexy" but not dirty record and a one-off performance last year gave us some hope that Elly Jackson was ready to take over the world. And while the electroballadry on Let Me Down Gently is wonderful (that sax ending is killer), we all really did want the bangers that La Roux had been famous for. And it looks like La Roux isn't fucking around with this second album.

Though it is a solo album, most of the songs on Paradise were written with Langmaid before the breakup. And of course, there is that signature La Roux production that sounds pristinely retro yet futuristic. However, this album puts that production lens on old school beach music. The aquatic sounds of morphed steel drums and new wave guitar riffs make for an album that truly embodies paradise. 

The old La Roux aura is in full force on songs like "Paradise Is You" and "Kiss and Not Tell" which appears to be more of Elly quality than Langmaid. With Kiss and Not Tell being the song that caused the two to part ways, its a surprise that it doesn't weigh heavily and still consumes you with its summery warmth. That warmth is a constant theme on the album as other songs like "Tropical Chancer" and "Silent Partner" hypnotize with their ridiculous pop hooks.

Though the album is incredibly cohesive, there are definite standouts amongst the record. The first official single "Uptight Downtown" has real potential to follow "Bulletproof"'s international success based on Jackson's killer vocal and badass attitude on top of the funkiest bass this side of the 2010's. And it doesn't stop there. The accusation that your man "is at the Sexoteque" should be the next #Surfboart and "Cruel Sexuality" can be listened to 40 times without ever getting boring.

Elly has done an excellent job of helming this short yet concise album by herself, and even gives us a taste of what's to come on "The Feeling" which was completely written by herself. A stunning closer to an immaculate island pop album, it gives us hope that the next album won't be half a decade away. The album continues La Roux's reputation of never sounding like anything else out there and being the ultimate pop chameleon. Trouble In Paradise came at just the right time in the summer and will be sure to keep you warm for the winter wherever you may be.

Best Listened To: On vacation in a Sexoteque
Standout Tracks: "Uptight Downtown" "Cruel Sexuality" "Sexoteque" though every song is brilliant

NSOTPop Rating: 9.5/10

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