Carrie & Lowell
Five years in the making and not a second wasted – La Roux's second is a wonderful pop triumph.
In For The Kill and Bulletproof might have made Elly Jackson a star in 2009, but the fallout from instant success was mighty. Anxiety attacks, circuitously or otherwise, caused the singer to lose her voice and there was further upheaval when she and songwriting/production partner Ben Langmaid fell out over the direction of the new songs. Langmaid didn't like what Jackson was coming up with, but he may well be alone there.
It’s hard to imagine anyone reacting with anything but glee to La Roux Mk II. While Langmaid's kept the odd credit, La Roux is essentially a solo act with My Bloody Valentine producer Ian Sherwin supporting Jackson as she indulges the off-track disco whims that precipitated the split. But for all the supposed switches in style, Trouble In Paradise shines with the same qualities that boosted La Roux's debut, only more so.
Truly great pop songs are the key. Uptight Downtown is a Chic-like tour through the 2011 riots, Sexotheque is a lament over a cheat set to the catchiest tune of the year, and the real standout – Cruel Sexuality – is synth-pop vs punk-funk, gorgeous and paranoid in equal measure. Jackson even pulls off the grandstanding ballad in the impossibly lush Paradise Is You.
Trouble In Paradise is as immediate as the debut, but warmer and deeper with it. It's unusual to find an album so slaved over, so difficult to make, that ends up a breeze. Jackson's pulled off a rare trick.