Newcomers La Roux, (comprising of Elly Jackson as the face and voice with Ben Langmaid on production) have had many reasons to celebrate of late. In the last year, they’ve polled in fifth position on the BBC’s Sound of 2009 poll, supported Lily Allen on the UK leg of her tour, been picked up by the Cherrytree label in the US (Home of Lady Gaga), first single In For The Kill has received international attention and has been one of the biggest hits in the UK in 2009 and more recently, single Bulletproof hit no.1 there.
This kind of hyped trajectory can work for and against a band trying to make their mark – Fortunately La Roux (French for ‘Flame Haired One’) have an album that defies disappointment.
80s influences are obvious, particularly Depeche Mode, Human League and Yazoo – La Roux have already received much criticism for sounding like an unoriginal version of the groundbreaking electro artists. Influenced? Yes. Reverenced? Yes. Unoriginal? Definitely not. Based on Jacksons’ on/off five year relationship, this is an album equally inspired by the hazards of heartbreak.
Album opener In For The Kill, if you can work past the shrill of Jackson’s vocals, is an instant classic – A synth-pop smash about a girl putting her heart on the line (and not caring about the outcome.) Quicksand is about sinking too deep while Amour Love (sounding like an updated Yazoo’s Only You), reeks of heartbreak, “You seem to believe you belong to somebody else, when you leave me alone in this world you know I’m in hell.”
There are two particular tracks that stand out however. As If By Magic won me over immediately with it’s synth heavy balladry and metaphorical lyricism, “I know I’m keeping my head in the clouds, and it’s not so tragic, if I don’t look down.” A clear strength of La Roux’s is their effortless ability to epitomise the complicated emotions of falling in and out of love. This can also be glimpsed on the brilliant Bulletpoof, a catchy-as-all-hell, self help anthem about standing your ground – Again with lyrical eloquence and simplicity, “I won’t let you turn around and tell me now I’m much too proud, all you do is fill me up with doubt. This time baby, I’ll be bulletproof.”
There was one more characteristic of La Roux’s debut which potentially could become a trademark – Overlapping final choruses. Although a relatively standard approach to modern pop music, La Roux have excelled in this regard – Particularly on As If By Magic and Bulletproof, where already prolific tunes have been given more depth and relevance. La Roux actually have a point to make, a story to tell and have done so with very exciting means.
Key Tracks: Bulletproof, As If By Magic, In For The Kill, Amour Love