It seems like a lifetime ago since ‘In For The Kill’ and ‘Bulletproof’ were dominating radio playlists. The partnership of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid shot straight to success with their grammy-winning debut self-titled record back in 2009 but they’ve sure taken their sweet time with following it up. The lengthy gap in between releases has seen them repeatedly try out new directions in order to conjure up the kind of tunes that can stand up as worthy heirs to the pop smashes on La Roux and this second album Trouble In Paradise is unquestionably a notable departure from La Roux as we know them for many reasons.
For one, La Roux has now been reduced to a solo project for – face and voice of the band – Jackson as Langmaid jumped ship in the time leading up to the record’s release over an apparent lack of understanding and displeasure with Jackson’s new focus on a sexier tone, which seems curious considering the fantastic songs that he is credited on co-writing here. This new emphasis on sexiness is evident from the tracklisting alone, but true to her claims, Jackson has filled the songs on Trouble In Paradise with seductive grooves, rollicking beats and simply more space to accompany her tales of rocky love. It’s thanks to this newfound use of space that the swooning ‘Paradise Is You’ and soaring ‘Cruel Sexuality’ are able to sparkle and accentuate Jackson’s aching vocal melodies. The jagged synths that formed the groundwork of La Roux are largely absent with ‘Silent Partner’ and its hard-edged melody being the lone hold-over from that sound and even then there is more room to breathe than tracks such as ‘Colourless Colour’ allowed.
As for the songwriting on Trouble In Paradise, well La Roux – with Langmaid or not – still know how to pen a pop song. The thing is chocked full of them from the disco guitars of single ‘Uptight Downtown’ to the Prince-ish hook of ‘Kiss And Not Tell’ and the ‘Get Lucky’-like chord progression of the bouncy ‘Tropical Chancer’. The only real misstep is ‘The Feeling’ which seems an afterthought after the climactic rush of ‘Let Me Down Gently’ but overall this Trouble In Paradise sounds pretty much like paradise.