After about a four year hiatus, Grammy-award-winning synthpop artist, La Roux, released her sophomore album, Trouble In Paradise, on July 22nd. Though taking a step away from the heavy synth that drove her debut album, the root of Paradise still falls into the same Elly Jackson we know and love.
The album opens on a strong note, with one of the albums best tracks, “Uptight Downtown”. Like much of the record, this track booms with a danceable quality, full of catchy hooks and grooves. This track is just a jam, and is sure to be a fan favorite live.
“Kiss and Not Tell” keeps the dancey quality, and adds a stronger, prominent beat. This track is a true example of a pop song that does not disappoint. As far as first impressions go, the song doesn’t seem as catchy as the strong opening we were thrown into, however, you will quickly find that the track gets inside your head.
The traditional pop vibe takes a backseat to the beat in “Cruel Sexuality”. Though the track is still danceable, the beat is very prominent in this song. This constant beat shifts toward the end to include a really cool change in pace that adds just the right amount of flair to close off the track. What stood out to me the most on this track, though, was the title, and lyrics. Jackson sings, “When I’m locked inside a dream, I say ‘Just use me.'” The song itself seems to be a musing on a relationship where Jackson is in love with a man who doesn’t love her back, and only wants her for her body. “Oh, you make me happy in my everyday life. Why must you keep me in your prison at night?” For this reason, this track stands out as an exceptionally powerful piece.
Four tracks into the album, the near constant, pop-dance vibe is cut to make way for a slow, swaying track that is apparent from the start to be the slow-dancing, romance-on-the-beach image of Paradise. “Paradise Is You” is a beautiful ode to a lover that is laced with images of tropical locations, sunset walks, and moonlit dances near the waves. This is the track to include on your mixtape to a lover.
The tropicality stays present with “Sexotheque”, a track that is coated with the sound and feel of any classic pop song straight out of the 80s, proving La Roux’s original vibe is still ever-present. The track opens with a heavy drum intro, which quickly slides into some cool tropical chords that continue throughout the song.
Arguably the albums most well-known track, “Tropical Chancer” takes it’s name to heart with more cool tropical vibes, yet adding a slow electric bump to the concoction. This is not the catchiest track on the album, but still manages to get you into the groove of it all.
Classic La Roux surfaces greatly in “Silent Partner”, a song that at first listen sounds like it should’ve been written in 1984. The track kicks right in with a classic 80s synth riff, bringing forth reminders of a Madonna song.
Jackson then slows things down once more with the silky, orchestral track, “Let Me Down Gently”. Hinted with organ, and backboned with a constant electric bump, this track would fit perfectly in a London Grammar catalog. La Roux takes her spin on it, with a long breath, followed by a heavy, beat-driven groove, complete with cool guitar riffing, and of course lighting up the dance vibe that we all love. It is this contrast of orchestral waves and poppy grooves that makes “Let Me Down Gently” one of the albums strongest tracks.
The album closes with probably the album’s weakest track, “The Feeling”. This track sounds like that lesser known 80s song playing in the background at a party. It is in no means a bad track, just less memorable than the rest of the album.
Overall, La Roux’s sophomore album makes it apparent that a four year break can do an artist a lot of good. By taking time to concentrate on the material at hand, Jackson has made an improvement to an already amazing album. Trouble In Paradise is a step up from her self-titled freshman release, adding more instruments, yet keeping the same 80s vibe we all loved about La Roux. What we have is a beautiful, tropical, beat-driven album that showcases a different sound, but the same La Roux we know and love.
Final Verdict: 8.5/10