First Spin… La Roux’s Trouble in Paradise
As far back as December 2011, La Roux were reportedly in the studio recording a follow-up to their acclaimed, self-titled debut LP. Then, suddenly, they weren’t. Sadly, the duo of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid had a pretty acrimonious falling out – reportedly over the guitar sound on one of the songs, according to a recent interview with Jackson published in The Sun – and so she went back to the drawing board and started over.
So, with La Roux now essentially a solo project, the second album – aptly named Trouble in Paradise - is finally hitting the shelves next week (July 21st). So what can we expect from the new album now that Elly Jackson is working alone? We gave it a listen to find out. Here are our thoughts on the new LP, track by track…
Any fears that fans might have had over whether the departure of Ben Langmaid would radically change La Roux’s sound are swiftly dispelled with the opening track, which wouldn’t have been out of place on their debut. It’s a shimmering slice of disco-pop that shows off everything that’s good about La Roux. Complete with some funky, Chic-esqe guitar chops and synth parts that Duran Duran would have been proud of, it’s a very encouraging start.
‘Kiss and Not Tell’
If the article in The Sun is accurate, it was the guitar part on this track that caused the La Roux split and, on this evidence, we have to say we’re with Jackson on this one; it’s funky, it’s unashamedly 80s and it sounds brilliant. Propelled by a shuffling drum machine groove and with a melody that is bound to get stuck in your head, it sounds like one of the best bits of Madonna’s Nile Rodgers-produced debut, but with better vocals.
A very slight shift downwards in tempo, ‘Cruel Sexuality’ has moments in the verses and bridge that sound like something Kraftwerk might have done circa Trans-Europe Express, but then the chorus kicks in and takes the song somewhere else entirely. It’s a little more subdued than the first couple of tracks, but it does feature a swooning chorus melody that shows off the best of Jackson’s voice.
‘Paradise is You’
Much more of a ballad this one, with a kind of ‘chillwave’ vibe led by a piano and lush synth pads that just wash over you. If you find yourself putting together playlist to soundtrack a relaxing sunbathing session in the near future, you might want to include this.
The title suggests this might be something quite grimy and sleazy, but in fact ‘Sexotheque’ is a chirpy, upbeat track with a lyric about a man playing away from home in red light district nightclubs: (She wants to know why he’s not home / oh, I bet money money money / I bet he’s at the Sexotheque). We probably shouldn’t find that as funny as we did, but it’s a sharp contrast between the biting lyrics and the happy-go-lucky, summery backing track and it really works.
A track which sounds much more like its title would suggest, its lyric is a cautionary tale of holiday romances that is underpinned by a kind of synth-pop-meets-dub-reggae production style, complete with a deep, chugging bassline and some steel drum-style synth parts that give the track an almost calypso feel.
This is pure, 80s synth pop – an uptempo, driven number that brings to mind Vince Clarke’s work in Yazoo. There’s a little more filth in the production here, particularly the growling bassline, and it’s all the better for it. For us, it’s one of the album’s highlights for sure.
‘Let Me Down Gently’
One of the singles already released from the album, ‘Let Me Down Gently’ plods along a little bit to begin with but suddenly comes to life when the drum beat proper boots the track into gear. A bit of a slow burner this one, we think…
The closing tracks on any album is, traditionally, quite often a slow-jam or ballad kind of thing. Not here. Instead, ‘The Feeling’ is propelled along by a bouncing, stuttering drum pattern and a melody that seems to almost yell ‘play me again from the start!’ Maybe we should…