GO BACK to 2009 and you’d be hard pressed to find a person who didn’t know the songs ‘In for the Kill’ or ‘Bulletproof’. Ah, 2009; the year Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid ruled. The duo took the charts by storm with their sharp electro-pop and Jackson’s unique brand of vocals. Over the years we’ve heard rumour after rumour about what the new material will sound like but, alas, nothing surfaced. FINALLY in 2014, we were given something new. With Jackson now operating as a solo artist after the departure of Langmaid, Trouble in Paradise throws La Roux into a softer, warmer musical light.
The impression left by a listen to La Roux’s debut, self-titled album was quite clear; the music was very loud, with ‘in your face’ synths and keys,, with Jackson’s piercing vocal hooks lead tracks such as ‘Bulletproof’ to great success. On Trouble in Paradise though, it feels like the intensity of La Roux’s music has been toned down. In place of the high frequency synths one would find on a track such as ‘In for the Kill’, we are presented with a funky, chilled vibe. An immediate difference the listener will notice is the tone of Jackson’s voice. Those piercing vocals hooks have (thankfully) calmed down a lot. In their place, smooth, warmer vocals that add to the funk feel that runs through the album. There are moments when you’d be forgiven for not realising you were listening to a La Roux album. ‘Cruel Sexuality’ and ‘Paradise is You’ are some class examples of how Jackson has changed her voice.
With the toning down of Jackson’s voice comes the musical change. Obviously an electronic presence is still there, but there is so much more than just your drum machine and keyboard. Like Daft Punk last year, La Roux feel like they have spread their musical wings to embrace the full band set up, incorporating guitars, bass, drums and more. The overall result of these changes leads to an outstanding record, whose enjoyment grows after every listen. Whereas their self-titled album had the hits to take the charts, Trouble in Paradise is an all round better and easier album to listen to. Admittedly there isn’t anything here that is going to take the charts by storm, but when an album feels this well put together it doesn’t matter. La Roux have overcome what some may call ‘the difficult second album’ with style, creating one of the finest pop records of the year so far.
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