Album hashtag: #synthgirlgonesexy
If we were rating an artist’s ability to redefine an overly used sound (synth), then La Roux’s second offering ‘Trouble In Paradise’ takes the cake. Their first self-titled album featured the massive introductory single “In For The Kill” which shattered rock and urban radio formats with its Kanye West-assisted remix. The eerily moody ‘La Roux’ went on to win the 2011 Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album in an upset over the Chemical Brothers. ‘Paradise’, on the other hand, takes a turn for the better in terms of growth between releases. Lead singer Elly Jackson takes the band’s songwriting not only into sexier newfound territories but to new audiences as well.
The synthpop effect plays out perfectly within the singles from ‘Paradise’. First official single “Let Me Down Gently” is a dark but clever song about facing rejection that would easily resonate with anyone. “I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m young foolish and green / let me in for a minute / you’re not my life but I want you in it” sings Elly over the subtle drums that the band is highly recognized for. Second single “Kiss And Not Tell” is more electro-synthpop than its predecessor, but Elly’s continued songwriting about being and feeling sexy fits right in. But it’s buzz single “Uptight Downtown” that sold me the most on La Roux’s latest. The disco pop affair that is “Downtown” is both playful and thoughtful – a mix that’s hard to find in 2014 releases.
Elly previously told news outlets that she wanted their sophomore album to be “sexy but in a classy way”.
After only one listen to ‘Paradise’ will have you thinking that they went above and beyond industry standards with the risqué theme. “Cruel Sexuality” is very 70s with its larger-than-life chorus, but the verses about the ups and downs of being in love make the song even more brilliant. “Paradise Is You” takes a metaphorical approach to the album’s overall theme as she sings “when all the roads ahead of me stop lookin’ new / my paradise is you, my paradise is you”. The subtleness of the chorus paired with Elly’s soft vocals is one of the album’s strongest moments.
Album highlight “Sexotheque” is one of my favorite songs in their entire catalog. The groove serves as an ode to Nile Rodgers with its elevatory, guitar arrangement that’s lifted straight from the prime disco era. “Sexotheque” takes a play on the term “discotheque” – a place where people go to dance to disco music. Although it’s not as direct, it’s assumed that she’s referring to a strip club with the catchy “she wants to know why he’s not home / I’ll bet money, money, money I bet / he’s at the Sexotheque” chorus lines. It’s because of songs like “Sexotheque” that keeps La Roux at the forefront as pioneers of synthpop.