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Friday Lock-in: La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

Written By Bianca Bosso on 07/18/2014

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It’s been a long, five-year wait since La Roux‘s glorious debut album. Some thought it would never come, others forgot that La Roux was Bulletproof. Well, she’s still wearing that vest but this time she’s headed for paradise but rather than enjoying cocktails and learning to hula-dance she’s sitting in the hotel room weeping. Enter this week’s lock-in. We may be in the midst of winter but La Roux’s ’70s funk and tropical-synths may just be enough to pull us out of our Winter slumber.

Uptight Downtown

Lizzie: Did anyone live in the UK see Boots chemist flash mobs?

Hannah: Yeah and they do the jazz runs? Like- slide, slide, slide. Yeah they had an add campaign like that

Bianca: I think this is classier than a flash mob to be honest

Hannah: What’s classier than a flash mob

Bianca: QR codes. *laughs* This song never fails to get me moving

Sam: It’s such a perfect homage to ‘70s funk as well as re-appropriating it with the synths

Bianca: I love beginning the album with this

Hannah: Yeah, it throws you right to where she wants you to be

Sam: There’s something sombre about it too. It’s upbeat and tropical but also really dark

Bianca:  I think that’s her voice, it’s always been a bit pleady

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Kiss And Not Tell

Hannah: Both of the songs so far are very familiar. She’s hamming to those…

Bianca: Tropical beats

Hannah: Really familiar chord progressions

Bianca: It does remind me of a gameboy game a bit

Hannah: I’m jumping up and grabbing coins

Sam: Part of me wondered if her production partner, Ben Langmaid, was the melodic genius of it all and when I saw the album was nine tracks I thought she’d really struggled with it. I thought it would sound bland but I’m not worried at all so far

Hannah: It’s a modern twist on more classic combinations that we’ve already heard. She slots right back in after five years

Bianca: Yeah she’s back and better

Sam: No one writes slightly left-of-centre pop better than La Roux can

Cruel Sexuality

Hannah: It sounds like too much is happening

Lizzie: Going back to familiarity. I felt like I wanted to join in without knowing what’s going to come next

Sam: I think this one is beautiful, one of the best so far. It’s so subtle. The melody builds and builds and then the harmonies come in at the end. Everything is so non-explicit about it

Bianca: I really like the bass-line. I love that kind-of speaking part but it’s not speaking

Sam: She does a great third verse, La Roux

Bianca: I love how each song has their different ‘moments’. I remember with Klaxons it was A B A B A B, with this it is A B C B A C D…

Sam: This is so so perky but she’s talking about this guy who’s pissing her offlaroux2

Paradise Is You

Hannah: Really slow version of crocodile rock

Lizzie: Once you said that I couldn’t get it out of my head

Sam: I love this one. It’s a nice little break coming up to the mid-point of the album

Bianca: She needed a break

Sam: She does slow well. I can understand how this floats over you after listening to the whole thing

Bianca: I love how the synths sound like strings. It’s kind of like an electronic orchestra

Sam: I’m really impressed by how she’s kept the whole tropical paradise vibe running ever so slightly in the background. It’s not St.Lucia full-on or like when the Triple J thing was to sound like you’re in the Bahamas

Hannah: She’s using it as a thread to feed her way through the ‘70s and then the ‘80s. That’s the commonality but it’s such a subtle one

Bianca: It’s such a smorgasbord this one. She doesn’t need steel drums to get noticed

Sam: She’s not using obvious things. It doesn’t sound like anything in pop music today probably because she’s been isolated for five years

Sexotheque

Lizzie: Love it, love it. It’s on the money money money

Everyone: *laughs*

Lizzie: My work here is done

Sam: There’s many things I love about it. Firstly, she’s this omniscient narrator, fly on the wall that watches the whole situation go down and then comes out with this cracker “money, money, money” hook

Hannah: It’s such a funny way to express angst in a relationship with a pina colada and maracas

Lizzie: So passive-agressive

Bianca: Like crazy-eyes “I’m gonna kill you”

Sam: That’s why I love that she narrates it all. Like she’s not in the situation, well she probably was, but she’s detached and she’s watching over and dancing. There’s this girl that’s miserable because her boyfriend’s being a dick to her but it’s so upbeat. It’s like how cartoons have a way of expressing really sad moments in a really poignant and satirical way

Bianca: Comedic relief

Hannah: This is a song version of a meme

Tropical Chancer

Lizzie: It’s interesting. You can associate it with that tropical feel but she hasn’t gone too far. It’s been taken-back and it’s subtle. I love it

Sam: I think she was just born with good taste because she just knows where the line is and she treads it so carefully on her debut, holding back from going full-on into pop territory and on this one again she’s held back from getting people with maracas

Bianca: My favourite is the way she pronounces “chancer”. I really like her accent there

Sam: There’s something about the line, “You have to believe that I’m a dreamer”

Hannah: If you got back to the title Trouble In Paradise, the whole album really gives you that vibe. Everything is sweet but there’s still that darkness underneath

Sam: We’ve talked lots with other albums about not listening to the lyrics but this is the first time we’ve been picking them up

Bianca: It’s a heartbroken person on a really beautiful pacific island. Like you want to enjoy the scenery, the water is amazing but it’s not as good as it could be because you’re heartbroken

Sam: It’s like you’ve been left at the altar but you still have to go on the honeymoon

Silent Partner

Lizzie: I don’t like this song at all

Hannah: I feel a little bit anxious

Sam: It’s definitely the outlier of the album but there is something I do like about it which is on the first album she was part of La Roux and this time she sound like the lead-woman. She’s more aggressive and she’s taken control

Lizzie: Nah, I’m just anxious

Bianca: It’s a really long song. I would’ve loved for there to be a big drum break-down

Hannah: For a seven-minute song you have to have something that hooks you

Sam: But she’s been very restrained with her anger the whole time maybe this is when she’s decided to let loose. I like it actually

Lizzie: The breakdown is quite cool

Hannah: Yeah but it’s not good enough for 7 minutes

Bianca: I can definitely see how it was needed on the album. Everything was a bit crazy-happy

Sam: I feel a change. On Tropical Chancer she’s was a little bit annoyed and now she’s pissed offlaroux3

Let Me Down Gently

Bianca: That pause is just so good

Lizzie: And then the breakdown…ahhhhh

Sam: The silence just lingers almost too long

Hannah: It’s another perfect demonstration of her knowing where the line is and then pulling back

Sam: She’s just a brilliant pop writer. The whole album she’s mixed sadness with happiness and this is just total sadness

Bianca: So much angst, that guitar with the breakdown…

Sam: That brass sounds like she’s devastated

Hannah: There’s still the ‘70s feel but she’s gone from tropical to a much more subdued sound

Sam: The storm’s gone and this is the calm

Lizzie: It makes me feel sorry for her. Awww…

The Feeling

Sam: I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said apart from her voice sounds flawless

Bianca: How is her voice so high but not grating

Hannah: Or breathy

Sam: And she jams so many words into a voice…

Hannah: Without losing coherence. Ah, we’ve started finishing each other’s sentences

Lizzie: Think about the story of the album. She’s gone from paradise to the anger and the sadness and now this is mellowed out. Like, “ok now I’ve gotta move on”

Sam: The whole album sounds like a nice narrative packaged together and again, she’s found a line where it’s like “nine songs, that’s enough”

Bianca: Yeah, it doesn’t sound forced. She is just so natural. Maybe because she’s had five years to mull it over

Sam: Can you imagine that?

Bianca: Well, she couldn’t even sing for part of that because she had anxiety attacks, she thought she had throat cancer. But it was purely from stress and anxiety. I guess this is her breaking free

Sam: There was a point last year when I thought we weren’t going to see another La Roux album but the fact she’s come back and this is so impressive is amazing

Hannah: I think what’s impressive is she sounded like she never left. It’s slipped back into where you want to be

Sam: As soon as I heard Let Me Down Gently I was confident about this record

Bianca: This album also doesn’t make me pine for the old album. When we listened to Klaxons I wanted to go back and listen to their old stuff so I could remember how good they used to be

Lizzie: Yeah this stands on its own

 

Best Song

Bianca: Sexotheque

Hannah: Sexotheque

Sam: Yeah, Sexotheque

Lizzie: That one’s the money, money one yeah? Yeah, I like that one

Sam: Sexotheque and Uptight Downtown

Bianca: And Let Me Down Gently

 

Overall Score

Lizzie: 8.5

Hannah: 7, I don’t think it tops Jungle and I gave Jungle an 8. Maybe 7.5

Bianca: I’m going to give it a 9

Sam: Yeah for me it flies past Jungle. 9