Writing a solid record of tropical disco pop is harder than it looks. Get it wrong, and it can leave an album flailing and out of context; like a Bee Gees tribute act that took a wrong turn and ended up at a UK garage night. Try too hard, and it’ll sound like someone who learnt all all the words to one Madonna song ready for their first beach party. With a track list containing titles like ‘Sexotheque’ and ‘Tropical Chancer’, La Roux is promising a tropical disco album all right. Luckily she steps up to the challenge, and is fully committed to every single chorus, each skipping synth line, and everything seems fully realised and genuine. The result is ‘Trouble in Paradise’, a cohesive and infectious second album which builds upon ‘La Roux’ and takes its melodic clout away on a tropical holiday to a progressive musical island.
La Roux has always had a finely tuned ear for unforgettable choruses, and since she first grabbed attention on French electro-pop label Kitsuné’s sixth Maison compilation, this has been her main weapon. ‘Quicksand’, ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In For The Kill’ are all songs that emerged at just the right time - accompanied by a huge resurgence of synth-pop bands - and they never went away. If there could ever be one main criticism of La Roux’s self-titled debut album, though, it’s that it sounded so sharply styled and slickly electronic that all those blooping melody lines felt just a tiny bit cold and reserved. Five years on, that pop appeal is still at the forefront, but ‘Trouble Is Paradise’ feels warmer, cheekier and more mischievous.
This album has a rather fitting title considering that one half of La Roux, Ben Langmaid, left halfway through recording. ‘Trouble In Paradise’ indeed. Some of the strongest songs on the record come from Jackson and Langmaid’s joint collaborations; the exuberant, feather-adorned ‘Sexotheque’, ‘Uptown Downtown’ or ‘Let Me Down Gently’. Even taking into account the creative tensions that created it, though, ‘Trouble In Paradise’ is her most exciting, and immediately likeable work yet. Tearing its way through nine songs of heady, humid, pop music in quick, effortless succession, La Roux is quickly establishing herself as a formidable force of pop, and it will be interesting to see where Elly Jackson goes from here.
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