English synthpop phenomena La Roux is back, boy it’s been a while since their self-titled debut album; five years is a significant break for a group in the electronic music genre. Anxiety led to illness for lead singer/writer Elly Jackson, a loss of voice deemed her unable to fulfil tour dates; new material was not premiered until 2013’s Coachella Festival, but La Roux would disappear from the public eye once again. Jackson is on her own now, her long-term partner and collaborator Ben Langmaid left the project due to the pair having artistic differences, however they still share writing credits for songs on the newbie. Quite fittingly, the new album is titled Trouble In Paradise.
Uptight Downtown served as the first single from the album, and it does not disappoint; it has a great beat, the multi-tracked vocal provides a fuller atmosphere and the arrangement in its entirety is sizzling. Kiss and Not Tell has a fun melody and a warm/fuzzy ring to it, and Cruel Sexuality allows for Jackson’s smooth vocal range to blossom in an easy kind of a vibe. We are eased into Paradise Is You with the slight sound of waves, the vocal is laid back yet layered and the sound of the keyboard is like a breath of fresh air; Sexotheque is an airy fairy pop take on a relationship in limbo where each partner have different things in mind from the other.
Tropical Chancer has an interesting sound going for it, it feels somewhat down key yet there’s still a lot of magic going on with it; Silent Partner has this deep, attractive synth/bass resonating throughout it, but the song dragged on a fair bit at a whopping 7 minutes long without any major changes to its sound to shake things up. Let Me Down Gently is the sixth and final writing collaboration between Jackson and Langmaid on the album, it has more of an emotional feel to it and isn’t overly layered with electronics; The Feeling brings the album to a lighter hearted close.
Trouble In Paradise gives us a taste of what else La Roux can do; it definitely has a more warmer, closer vibe than its predecessor. The sound may be different, but with the original lead writers still collaborating together for the bulk of the record, the magic hasn’t been lost. Jackson clearly has no problem standing on her own two feet with this release, she’s come a long way since belting out club/radio favourite Bulletproof and here’s hoping she remains as such. It will be interesting to hear what La Roux has in store for the next album, hopefully there’ll be no more Trouble In Paradise in the near future.