Album Review: La Roux – Trouble In Paradise

Photo: Julian Broad

The best thing about Ben leaving La Roux is that I don’t have to be the know-it-all that corrects casual listeners who think Elly Jackson is quite literally forename La surname Roux. ‘Trouble In Paradise’ is an apt title (unconsciously so, apparently, as Jackson says it refers to her vocal problems and nothing at all to do with the fact that she and her cohort had a mighty falling out) but shh, it’s all about the music and not about the drama.

A first listen boasts a few initial treats – ‘Uptight Downtown’ is a perfect segue between the debut record and ‘Trouble In Paradise’ with a mighty guitar that commands attention. ‘Sexotheque’ and it’s frantic chorus is another winner – from the off, it’s bubbly verses sound innocently juxtaposed against the lyrical content. Following on from my review of the track, ‘Let me Down Gently’ was a beautiful welcome back to La Roux thanks to it’s subtle yet epic atmospherics leading towards a fantastic finish.

‘Tropical Chancer’ and ‘Cruel Sexuality’ are catchy little ditties too but just feel like a little magic is missing; something to jump out at you – like the guitar in ‘Uptight Downtown’ of the dramatic drop in ‘Let Me Down Gently’. Worryingly, I leafed through the album booklet and uncovered that these are two of the songs Ben didn’t feature on. Could it be that he was the  man behind the curtain pulling all the strings of genius? Well, not to discredit his brilliance that is apparent elsewhere, but Elly more than proves she is capable of going on without him, as per ‘Silent Partner’ (which I’m sure is actually about a mute boyfriend Elly once had and nothing at all to do with the fact that she and her cohort had a mighty falling out). The lengthy track clocks in at a second shy of seven minutes and though it has a few natural finales that are ignored, it doesn’t feel excessively long thanks to it’s recurring, infectious titular hook.

‘Trouble in Paradise’ is actually a stellar attempt at quieting the doubters – La Roux can bring some variety, which wasn’t overly apparent on their debut and Elly herself has proven that she does have quite a bit of talent thank you very much. Kudos to the lady herself who does in fact take credit for playing almost every instrument known to man in the booklet. But the real feat was pulling this out of the bag – between the Ben collabs and newer experiments, it is a coherent but varied record that captures a nostalgic essence and gives it a current, cool and exciting twist. Where she goes from here is yet to be seen, but ‘Trouble In Paradise’ is a comeback worthy of the wait.

Photo: Julian Broad
Words: Simon McMurdo


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