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Saturday 10 October 2009

Album review: La Roux

Posted in: Music
By Andrew Grear - 4th October 2009

It's been nearly 20 years since the 80's ended, but on electropop duo La Roux's debut album, they seem more than happy to let it live on… and damn do they do an amazing job.

Hailing from the UK, Elly Jackson (she of the impressive red quiff), and Ben Langmaid (he of the "I didn't realise it was a duo, I just thought it was that girl with the impressive red quiff") have crafted eleven fantastic songs to create one of the best albums of the year.

Synths abound, La Roux haven't just cribbed the 80's sound, they've thrown themselves right into it with a dedication that is impressive to say the least. However it still manages to sound modern and completely fitting in the 2009 soundscape. When they cite artists such as David Bowie and Annie Lennox in their list of influences, they aren't just name-dropping, they mean it.

The album opens with their breakthrough single In for the Kill. It grabs you instantly with an insistent drumbeat and holds you with Jackson's shrill vocals that are chilly enough to send a shiver down your spine.

The following track, and "should have been fourth single" Tigerlily brings Jackson out of the rafters while keeping her just as affecting and sounding quite aggressive injecting an atmospheric spoken word bridge.

Quiffed: Elly Jackson of La Roux
The highlight of the album (and possibly of 2009) is current NZ single Bulletproof. It's a defiant finger in the air to a former lover and the epitome of cool (just check out the video!).

The quirky Colourless Colour, which references "early 90's décor" has a warmth that you wouldn't believe Jackson was capable of based on the previous tracks. It also has a wistful sorrow to it.

I'm Not Your Toy is alas a disappointment as the next single release after Bulletproof. By itself it's a great track, but on an album full of standouts it seems lacklustre. Cover My Eyes is the closest thing you'll find to a ballad on here and brings in the addition of a gospel choir, something which makes any song at least 10% better by default in my opinion. Jackson sounds emotionless, but not in a bad way. You get the impression she's been put through the emotional ringer and hasn't the energy to feel anything anymore as she croons "when I see you walking with her I have to cover my eyes, every time you leave with her something inside of me dies."

80's revival is nothing new in recent years, and 2009 has certainly been dominated by the electropop sound, but in sea of sound-a-likes La Roux stand out from the crowd by going back to where it all began. While I never thought it possible, they've made the 80's cool again.


In the video below: La Roux performs Bulletproof on the Jimmy Kimmel show.
















Andrew Grear - 4th October 2009

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