La Roux
La Roux


4.5
superb

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
July 19th, 2009 | 122 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The album of the year race just got fired up.

Electro-pop is back, and very much a la mode in 2009 – particularly amongst the Brits. Here’s a tip: once you’re done with Little Boots, The Bird and the Bee and the Pet Shop Boys, there’s something else you need to hear. An entirely new force has delivered its debut after a string of very tempting singles leading up to its arrival.

The collective of which we speak is La Roux – producer Ben Langmaid and one of the year’s more unlikely sex symbols, vocalist Elly Jackson. Given, it’s difficult to keep up with all the latest superlative-inducing hype darlings that outlets like NME and the blogosphere constantly churn out. At last, however, we’ve come across one that deserves every bit of praise that comes to it – La Roux is one of the strongest pop albums of the year, impeccably capable of not only showcasing very apparent musical influences (Depeche Mode, New Order, even the Human League); but establishing a very distinctive sound in spite of the former.

Dissecting a duo such as this should be an easy task – one sings and one does the rest of the work. Even a half-interested listen to La Roux, however, will bring a listener to the conclusion that such analysis is too much of an oversimplification. Much like the partnership of the aforementioned Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys, there’s an art to their sound collectively, as opposed to individually.

Langmaid’s endless variety of tones and styles in his synth patterns flow alongside electronic backbeats that are livened up by the occasional industrial clang or vintage TRS-808 sounds. Correspondingly, the red-haired one (“la roux” in French) is faultlessly able to provide its perfect counterpart throughout the album. Her warm, organic voice spans several octaves over the twelve tracks on offer, establishing herself as a genuinely exciting vocal talent in a genre not exactly known for finding such things.

Take track two, “Tigerlily”, and track four, “Bulletproof” – in this instance, to demonstrate the album’s collaborative successes. “Tigerlily” throws out warped arpeggio with harsh kick-drum rhythm and a spoken word interlude eerily similar to Vincent Price’s Thriller cameo. Subsequently, it is caught by a vocal line that is frail and ominous in tone, creating a magnificent album highlight in the process. At the opposing end of this, the confident bop of “Bulletproof” twirls through its verses before soaring through a wondrously harmonic chorus. Atop of Langmaid’s chirpy keys (as well as on top of the figurative world), Jackson boisterously executes a sassy kiss-off, both vocally and lyrically.

Elly Jackson creates several multi-faced characters through her lyrics on La Roux. The stories thrive on romance and passion, leaving the listener to perceive Jackson somewhat enigmatically. The same woman who is “going in for the kill” and hoping you will “not let go” of her hand on the ridiculously catchy “In For the Kill” is also quick to remind you that she is “not your toy” on the track of the same name – adding, for good measure, that “this isn’t another girl-meets-boy”. Different times and different situations at the time of their individual writing, sure, but both songs show both her strengths and vulnerabilities, and are arguably two of the strongest examples of an album that wears its heart on its sleeve, pant leg and phone background.

La Roux have created a lasting first impression with plenteous hooks and the sensational feeling that we may have found the closest thing to pop perfection in the year’s releases. Don’t bother listing them as an “artist to watch” – if all goes well, La Roux will see them garner exposure to the point that they are unavoidable.



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user ratings (221)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
For Meatplow (3.5)
La Roux: enjoyable electro-pop that just screams "guilty pleasure."...

STOP SHOUTING! (4)
The ugly duckling turns into an ice queen....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Spare
July 19th 2009


5313 Comments


Video for In For the Kill is ridiculously bad, though that's probably what they were going for. What I've heard of this on triple j I haven't liked, but it's better than most electro-pop type stuff. Not a fan of her voice. Anyway good review, atavanhalen 4 staff etc.

Titan50
July 19th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I HATE Bulletproof. Seriously...

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 19th 2009


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

no way this is 4.5

but nice job anyway

Digging: The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

astrel
July 19th 2009


2614 Comments


I didn't really like what I heard of her, honestly.

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Knott-
Emeritus
July 19th 2009


10198 Comments


i actually like bulletproof
which surprises me
but in for the kill is retarded and annoying
and therefore i shall not be check-checkin'thisout

gaslightanthem
July 19th 2009


5209 Comments


in for the kill club remixes are amazing however

ConorMichaelJoseph
July 19th 2009


1870 Comments


Review is good but I definitely won't be checking this out

Knott-
Emeritus
July 19th 2009


10198 Comments


yeh i pos'd but if the last sentence turns out to be true i might kill myself and then i'll have to take the pos back

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2009


20857 Comments


This group were already on my list to listen to.

Does this sound similar to Ladyhawke?

AtavanHalen
July 19th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not vocally, but somewhat musically.
Bit of a fangirl review but this is seriously awesome.

spoon_of_grimbo
July 19th 2009


2241 Comments


listened to this whole album t'other day and it's proper good throughout, definitely gonna be picking this up soon. "in for the kill" is about the catchiest song i've heard this year, although that "lets get ravey" remix of it is total dogshit.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Oh wow

Knott-
Emeritus
July 19th 2009


10198 Comments


im going to listen to this because i just saw her on iTunes 2009 and she was cool so therefore maybe there is hope

not as cool as kaya scodelario though

AtavanHalen
July 19th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh wow

This is actually really good but ILLUVATAR

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Nope not particularly

AtavanHalen
July 19th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's all yours to review seeing as your soundoff makes no sense.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 21st 2009


7026 Comments


This isn't a 4.5, but I didn't expect it to be so whatever. My favorite song off this is "Bulletproof". Good review as always David!

STOP SHOUTING!
July 22nd 2009


631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was listening to Bulletproof the other day, thinking it was alright, a definite New Order influence there as well.

AtavanHalen
July 22nd 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the support and shit Lucid.

STOP SHOUTING!
July 26th 2009


631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You spin me right round baby right round, like a record baby right round right round.



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