Album Review – La Roux: Trouble in Paradise

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La Roux have just released their highly anticipated second album ‘Trouble in Paradise’.

This is the follow up to the synthpop, 80s influenced debut ‘La Roux’, released in 2009. This album peaked at number 2 in the UK Albums Chart and won best Electronic/Dance Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy awards in 2011 and ‘Trouble in Paradise’ looks set to achieve similar success with The Guardian pronouncing it the best pop album of the year. ‘Trouble in Paradise’ bears a strong 80s electro vibe and many of the tracks have a distinctly tropical sound about them. The duo (Elly Jackson providing vocals and Ben Langmaid producing) are rumoured to have parted ways and the album title may be a reflection of the difficulties they’ve had to endure over the past 5 years.

The opening track ‘Uptight Downtown‘ is infectious and anthemic: the perfect album opener and vaguely reminiscent of ‘Bulletproof’ with its insanely catchy lyrics.

The second track ‘Kiss And Not Tell’ is funky with its layered percussion and synths: A happy medium between poppy chart topper and laid back chill out tune.

After opening with a bang, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ takes a more chilled turn with ‘Cruel Sexuality’. This song brings a change of tempo and the highly varied vocals and three contingent parts almost makes it sound like three songs spliced together

‘Paradise is You’ is a beautifully constructed love song, with further references to the tropical theme which runs through the entirety of ‘Trouble in Paradise’. A completely different side to Elly’s vocals are displayed in this track as ‘Paradise is You’ moves away from the synth-heavy autotuned vocals La Roux is famed for.

A change of pace is brought once again by track number 5, ‘Sexotheque’. The piano and tambourine aspects of the track give ‘Sexotheque’ strong 80s leanings and the potential to be the perfect karaoke choice. Personally, the baseline and piano makes the song seem vaguely reminiscent of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ ‘Come on Eileen’. This is one of the standout album tracks for me as it’s infectious and so catchy you will find yourself singing it long after it’s finished.

‘Tropical Chancer’, as the name suggests, has a tropical atmosphere to it, exemplified by the delicate use of electronically recreated steel drum beats. Another personal favourite of mine and which I think is one of the most radio-friendly songs on the album.

‘Silent Partner’ crashes onto the scene in a whirlwind of synths and electronically manipulated beats. It’s like a watered down version of ‘In For The Kill’ but with a darker edge. Imagine if Hadouken were in charge of laying down a beat for a commercial pop song and you get the general vibe given off by ‘Silent Partner’. ‘Silent Partner’ and ‘Uptight Downtown’ are the two tracks which bear a sound closest to that of La Roux’s debut album.

The penultimate song, ‘Let Me Down Gently’, the first single released from ‘Trouble in Paradise’ is not what I would I would have expected La Roux to choose to announce their return. It is very down tempo until the second half but even then it doesn’t shout. It’s definitely a song which builds and I can imagine grows on you after a few plays.

The album ends with ‘The Feeling’ which has quite a unique sound it with its smooth, unwavering synth throughout and gentle backing vocals.

This album certainly lives up to its name: 9 tracks which explore the highs and lows of love and infatuation as well as touching on darker topics such as addiction. The tropical, beachy sound is perfect for summer 2014 and the combination of party tunes mixed with a more chilled sound works well, however, the distinct absence of a major standout track in the vein of ‘Bulletpoof’ or ‘In For The Kill’ was disappointing. It is clear that La Roux’s sound has evolved over the past 5 years and they in no way wanted to create a carbon copy of their debut. Whether this album is better than the debut, I am still to decide.

 

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