La Roux released their Grammy winning debut album all the way back in 2009 and it offered up a slice of nostalgic 80s sounding synthpop with modern twists. It spawned massive hits such as ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In For The Kill’ and had lead singer, Elly Jackson’s falsetto infecting many people’s ears. But then times got a bit tougher for La Roux after Jackson lost her voice due to performing anxiety and with it she lost the ability for her signature falsetto. After that her partner Ben Langmaid left due to artistic differences during the making of the album. Taking all this into account a five year gap isn’t too bad to be making a second record and like she said in an interview with BBC News on why it feels so long ‘things are quicker now, artists don’t hang around as much as they used to.’
Because of this long wait in the modern world this album has had a lot of anticipation behind it, and it doesn’t disappoint. To be honest nearly every song on this album is worthy enough to be a single just as much if not more so than most of the material on the debut. The thing that has been most effected from the gap in between albums is Jackson’s voice. She sings in a lower register a lot more frequently than before with her signature falsetto very rarely showing up at all and this actually works better than anticipated. The album of course is nostalgic of 80s pop music, but this time it has a bit more of a new wave flavour to it over straight up synthpop. Instead of the very heavy synths they had on the first album they now a lot lighter and have big scratchy guitars and funky bass lines that come up over the top. They all work perfectly together in making near perfect pop music, not original but damn near perfect most the time.
Melodically this album is an absolute gold mine. Nearly every song has at least three incredible melodies that stick in the back of your head like glue and they all weave into each other perfectly. This is best shown on songs like ‘Cruel Sexuality’ in which everything seems to come together at the end with melody on top of melody on top of melody until it creates a big crescendo. This is where La Roux’s biggest strengths lie, in their ability to make incredible pop songs. But not just incredibly fun pop songs, she makes great pop ballads such as the song ‘Let Me Down Gently’. Jackson is sounding her most sincere on this song and the instrumentation keeps on building and building creating a surprisingly emotion ballad.
It would appear that in their five year gap La Roux also became very interested in sexual ways and the ways it affects us. It’s an unoriginal subject of course but they don’t half do it well and it’s a step up from the basic (yet satisfying) love songs from the first album. Jackson sings of being trapped inside a relationship and how sex is being used against her on the song ‘cruel sexuality’. She sings of a man being unfaithful on the album standout ‘Sexotheque’ and how she would bet money that this man is seeing what could possibly be a prostitute in his spare time. She also sings of the upsides of relationships and sex in the song ‘Paradise Hits You’ where she sings about how perfect a relationship can feel. The album shows the pros and cons of every relationship.
If there is anything on this album that lets it down it’s the final track on here ‘The Feeling’. The songs feels extremely out of place partly due to the fact that the bar was set so high by every other track on here and partly because it feels more like a demo track. It has La Roux singing in her old falsetto voicing and features some baffling production choices in the instrumentation. This song is a loss of footing but not enough to ruin the album.
It may have been a little wait for an album in modern day music but it’s certainly not the let down that many albums are after little breaks. Let’s hope that La Roux has found sure ground and is able to keep churning out great albums such as their first two.