It's been too long since La Roux graced us with their debut self-titled album in 2009. Breathing new life into the electropop genre, it seemed as though the 00s finally had an answer to what had been missing in music since the 80s. Lead songwriter/vocalist Elly Jackson wrote the kind of songs that possessed that rare blend of profound resonance and a danceable beat. The enthusiastic response of her fans, however, left Jackson blindsided by the amount of fame and recognition she was receiving. Hence, the long hiatus until now.
The first single, "Uptight Downtown," showcases some of what we had come to expect of La Roux based on her upbeat first album. Echoing the sound of an 80s David Bowie song (faint tinges of “Let’s Dance” come to mind), “Uptight Downtown” was followed up by the stylistically unexpected “Let Me Down Gently,” the second to last song on Trouble in Paradise. As one of the most melancholic tracks on the album, it perhaps represents Jackson’s own struggles with her longtime musical collaborator, Ben Langmaid, ultimately replaced by a bevy of supporting musicians including Mickey O’Brien, William Bowerman, Ed Seed Matty Carroll and Ian Sherwin.
The second track, "Kiss and Not Tell," continues the uptempo portion of Trouble in Paradise, and most closely resembles the tone of "Bulletproof"--making it one of the strongest contenders for third single material. "Cruel Sexuality" is another album highlight in terms of La Roux's noticeably elevated confidence as a musician. Lyrics like, "Once you touch you believe/It's a dangerous scene when passion turns into greed," emphasize Jackson's continued improvement as a songwriter.
"Let Me Down Gently" reveals the same vulnerability we saw on songs like "Colorless Colour" and "Armour Love" from the self-titled record. "Paradise Is You" is a simple, heartfelt allegory about experiencing paradise through a specific person. Although Jackson cited Grace Jones and Tom Tom Club as her main influences for this album, the Prince presence is evidenced quite clearly on this song. Next up is the fanciful vibe of "Sexotheque," somewhat in contrast to the song's title in terms of lasciviousness. Jackson sings, "He never answers the phone... he's at the sexotheque," as though it is only a mild scandal.
"Tropical Chancer" exudes the cockiness we have come to expect from La Roux at this point on Trouble in Paradise. Plus, it makes you think of Henry Miller, so you can feel slightly more literary as you dance to so-called vapid pop music. In what is possibly another none too subtle dig at Ben Langmaid, "Silent Partner" features catty remarks such as, "All I need is silence, I'm cryin' out for silence/You're not my partner, you're not a part of me." She had to have her final say on the matter, evidently.
Following is "The Feeling," which mirrors similar vocals to "I'm Not Your Toy" from La Roux's first album. Jubilant and expressive, La Roux tells us that she's "got the feeling," presumably love or a boner. And, all in all, that's just the feeling you're going to get from this nine-track (in keeping with the traditional style of 80s records) album, just in time to transition into the dog days of mid summer.