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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Song Of The Day: "Lionheart" by Sophie Elise

We have entered an age where Vine stars somehow get a Billboard Top 20 song on their first try. Youtubers are dropping covers and EPs left and right, which are much better quality to be honest, and fans eat it up like candy regardless of what they hear. 

It's all very Jonas Brothers Syndrome but we do get music every now and then, don't we One Direction? The older generation appears to underestimate the power that social media and fandoms have these days, but just wait till a President is elected based on the number of his Twitter followers.

This has all been a roundabout way of introducing up and coming talent Sophie Elise to the pop game. With all the Viners, Youtubers, and Instagrammers trying to break it in the music industry, it's about time a fashion blogger shows them how it's done. Sophie happens to be a rather famous fashion blogger from Norway (just got 20x better) and "Lionheart" is her first single. From one listen, it's a pretty epic song that ticks off all the marks for a stadium-sized international hit. Sophie also has a pretty great voice despite not making sense with the lyrics (what exactly is a Lionheart?). But that's how many popstars get started, with people singing words you made up. One word: Discostick. 

Anyway, here is Lionheart.

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Artist Retrospective: The Saturdays' Finest Selection Of Hits

I know that I might have thrown minor shade at The Saturdays when I talked about the new girl group in town Neon Jungle. However, I have to say that The Sats are one of the best groups in pop and have consistently put other bands like The Script, One Direction, and The Wanted to shame. For the past 5 and 1/2 years, Rochelle, Mollie, Una, Vanessa, and Frankie have kept us dancing, singing, and crying (lots of ballads with these girls) and we Just Can't Get Enough.

With 4 and a half albums to their name, The Saturdays are readying to release their first collection of Greatest Hits. Entitled The Finest Selection, the 20 track list is mouthwatering to any fan of music. Granted, the Saturdays discography is by no means consistent. I mean their only #1 hit in the UK is the amateur trop-pop anthem What About Us, which seemed like an excuse to give Sean Paul some work (there I go, throwing shade again). However, like the almighty Girls Aloud, the lows only make the Saturdays' highs that much more monumental. Allow me to elaborate while you listen to their newest single, Song Of The Day recipient "What Are You Waiting For?"

Back in 2008, the girls got together with each girl having a signature characteristic that makes a girl group legendary. Mollie is gorgeous and hilarious.

Rochelle has some of the best stage presence in the business right now.

Una's songwriting ability and red hair divinity make her a worthy successor to Geri HaliwellNicola Roberts's place as the ginger goddess.

Frankie's got the moves to back up that fierceness.

And Vanessa has got some pipes that would give Christina Aguilera a run for her money.

Basically they're gorgeous, gifted, and flawless. Let's look at one last gif of their perfect hair flipping game.

But it's all about the music, isn't it? Good thing that's pretty good too. Their debut single "If This Is Love" may sound familiar but the girls turn the sample into an infectious glittery track that announced their arrival. Follow up single "Up" solidified their status as the brand new bitches in town and their first album is by far their best. JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH!

They continued their reign as pop royalty with a string of singles that included the Kelly Clarkson almost single "Forever Is Over", their introduction to clubby dance music "Notorious" and the retro referencing "Disco Love." Their discography really is astounding and The Finest Selection might be the best greatest hits album released this side of the 2010s! If you're still unconvinced, let's just look at the Saturdays best singles before the amazing "What Are You Waiting For?"

5. Not Giving Up

The Saturdays' latest single didn't make an impact on the charts that much but it is a real highlight on their newest album Living For The Weekend. The video also displays the group at their most confident on top of the positive energetic dance track, taking in their majesty as the most experienced girl group since the Aloud and Sugababes.

4. Higher (feat. Flo Rida)

Forgiving the fact that they had to team up with Flo Rida, this was the Saturdays' moment to shine and really should have been their first #1. They also lived my dream of dancing in a traffic jam, so good for you girls.

3. Work

The most underrated Saturdays song also happens to be the best song off their first album Chasing Lights. The attitude and sass from each of the girls as they tell their men to get to work is a life lesson we should all take away.

2. Gentleman

Now this was unexpected! This retro rap-pop hybrid lamenting over rude men has some of the best lines of 2013. Highlights include "I let you taste my rainbow" "He already had the milk so why would he go buy the cow?" and "if he's been cheating on me, then he'll probably cheat on you." That is lyrical gold right there. But the best part is that insane rap at the end where they basically list all the guys they want to get with. If nothing else, the girls have good taste in men (minus Kanye and Larry King). But Kellan Lutz is mine okay?

1. All Fired Up

GAMECHANGER ALERT! This song has to be the highlight of The Saturdays career as this balls to the wall raveathon went down in history as one of the top 10 moments in girlband history. Thanks to Xenomania, the girls surpassed their predecessors to finally take the lead as the best girl band in the world for a moment.

So here's to 5 years of the Saturdays helping to make pop a better place. And hopefully, there will be another 5 years together before each of the girls goes on to a fruitful solo career!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Best Albums of 2013

Miley wishes BANGERZ was on here
2013 was a great year for music, with a lot of old pop divas coming for their thrones and newish artists finally get their first LP out in the open. We saw Miley's Wrecking Ball and Britney Jean's Work Bitch slaying the charts but both those albums failed to really amount to anything (my opinion alone, don't kill me). So now I've compiled the best albums of 2013 in order of amazingness, and keep following the blog for Track by Track Throwbacks where I go deep into each track with my thoughts!

18. Summer Camp by Summer Camp

Just by their name, you can tell that Summer Camp have your vacation in my mind with their fun and effervescent brand of pop. So roll down your windows and play this album as you're driving along the coast and think about a fun 60's summer adventure.

17. Night Time, My Time by Sky Ferreira

It's taken Sky Ferreira a long time to get it together but she finally released her debut album in 2013. Dropping her bubbly electropop persona for a scuzzy pop-rock alternative, the album suprisingly doesn't run dry on pop hooks despite the Kurt Cobain-esque styling. Good job Sky!

16. Woman by Rhye

Rhye came on the scene in 2012 with the excellent "The Fall" and their new album lives up to all the hype. A collection of blissed out cuts that wrap around you like a cashmere sweater made of clouds.

15. Beyonce by Beyonce

Katy Perry's gold truck has nothing on Queen Beyonce's surprise release of last year. While we were all freaking out and trying to comprehend how this was even possible, the music was also pretty good! So all I have left to say is, Bow Down Bitches.

14. Settle by Disclosure

With the 90's house revival in full swing, we can thank Disclosure for getting our inner 90's kid out with their debut album. Though a little repetitive at points, this record sounds scattered and chaotic, in the best way possible.

13. Body Music by Alunageorge

Electro R&B is the new genre we never knew we needed. Thanks to Alunageorge and their first album we can now jam to sum of the weirdest and funkiest music of the 2010's.

12. Trouble by Natalia Kills

Everything about Natalia Kills' return to music was amazing. After ditching the goth Lady Gaga persona, Natalia finally releases music that sounds inexplicably like her: powerful, witty, and epic.

11. The Bones Of What You Believe by CHVRCHES

The year's smartest electropop comes from the Glasgow formed CHVRCHES. An exciting and captivating adventure from beginning to end, this is a strong debut on what is sure to be a long and successful career for the band.

10. Days Are Gone by Haim

The BBC Sound of 2013 winners deliver an excellent record that blends the California rock scene with the best of 80's pop. The Haim sisters are the coolest band in whatever country you're in and would make Fleetwood Mac proud.

9. This Is... Icona Pop by Icona Pop

The baddest bitches of Sweden Icona Pop broke the soundwaves of America in 2013 and their first album stateside is a nonstop stream of shouty bangers. Though the Swedish release has a lot more substance to it, any album with "I Love It" deserves to be in the top 10.

8. The Beat Becomes A Sound by Late Night Alumni

This Kaskade side project returns to the chilled out breezy trance music that made their second album so spectacular. Late Night Alumni's mix of acoustic guitars and dance beats was ahead of its time and the angelic vocal is a great bonus.

7. Skyer by Postiljonen

The most majestic music this year comes from Sweden (obviously) as Postiljonen warms you up with lush production and beautiful electronica. The M83-esque release innocently calls for your attention and is worth every moment of listening.

6. Samson & Delilah by V V Brown

Grace Jones has got some competition as V V Brown reincarnates herself as a dark princess of edgy pop-noir. Making the biggest 180 of 2013, V V manages to pull of one of the year's most avant-garde and exciting releases in recent memory.

5. ARTPOP by Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga may be flailing around a bit with this whole ARTPOP schtick but the album really is pretty great. A typical Lady Gaga album, you've got everything from pop to EDM to hip/hop to Middle Eastern trance music. You can always count on Mother Monster to deliver some of the weirdest and often times brilliant songs in music today.

4. Music To Make Boys Cry by Diana Vickers

The X Factor alumni's sophomore album is a work of art. Thanks to some help from master songwriter Miranda Cooper, Diana Vickers has never sounded so comfortable with each song reflecting the bubbly personality and wide-eyed romanticism that made us fall in love with Vickers to start with.

3. Nocturnes by Little Boots

With a promise to create the music she had always wanted to make, electropop mistress Little Boots returned to us with Nocturnes, a collection of moody night time electronica. The most cohesive album on the list, Boots doesn't mess around with getting us to cry on the dancefloor and many vogue houses would play this record nonstop.

2. Heartthrob by Tegan & Sara

Who knew that these Canadian twins had it in them to create one of the best pop albums of the decade? Certainly not me. One of the first releases of 2013, Tegan & Sara made sure that their debut into electropop would leave a mark and luckily, they achieved that with spectacular results.

1. True Romance by Charli XCX

It's hard to believe that Charli XCX's first album was released over a year ago and she is still releasing new music. After teasing the public with the occasional amazing single and brilliant mixtape, Charli's lovestruck (or love struck down) album is a magical testament to Charli's skill as a songwriter and there is not a single dud track amongst all the dark pop odes to romance.

There you go, the best albums from last year. Overall, I think music was the real winner. Let me know if I missed out on anything and stay tuned for further reviews of each amazing album!