Album Review: La Roux ‘Trouble In Paradise’

Thumosaic BrainworksReblogged from Thumosaic Brainworks

thumosaicbrainworks:

By Harry Levin

If there is one word that has described the career of Elly Jackson, its unexpected. Whether its her tomboyish appearance or the fact that her project, La Roux, began as a duo, nobody could have predicted the timeline of events that brought her to our attention. Trouble In Paradise, her latest album, is no exception.

All the way back in 2009 when electronic dance music was still dormant, La Roux released their critically acclaimed self-titled debut. Songs like “Bulletproof” and “Tigerlily” provided synth pop, a genre known for its minimalistic approach, with a powerful electronic edge. Jackson’s voice was a white-hot flame supported by an array of huge drums and grueling effects. Even though La Roux was and is a spectacular album worthy of recognition in and of itself, that wasn’t what took Jackson to the next level. 

No one foresaw the rise of dubstep, but Jackson had already demonstrated that her voice could hold its own against any backing track, no matter how raucous or noisy. Lucky enough for her, the two biggest dubstep artists on earth at the time (Skirllex and Skream) chose to take advantage of this by remixing “In For The Kill.” Both remixes became huge in a matter of weeks, and despite the fact that they both sounded totally different from the original, the name “La Roux,” is known based of the merit of Jackson’s voice (She even included Skream’s remix on the bonus track edition of La Roux).

Now that the hype surrounding the loudest forms of EDM is gradually diminishing, and Daft Punk has revived disco and funk, I had no idea how the already unpredictable La Roux, currently consisting solely of Jackson (another unanticipated transpiration), would break into this retro phenomenon. 

Considering the creative obscurity of her first release, I did expect Jackson to explore a whole different genre. Which one she would choose is irrelevant as long as she had maintained her trademark vocal intensity. “Let Me Down Gently,” the first single that was posted to her official Soundcloud page two months ago, confirmed my suspicions in that light. Beginning with a bouncing pop beat, the soulful sound that is Elly Jackson quickly enters over swirling synths, slowly building to a steady indie beat. Much less energetic than the first album, but still very groovy. “Paradise Is You follows this trend with more angelic vocals that slowly spread out into a harmonious series of echoes. “Tropical Chancer” makes a classic UK dub funky as hell.

Unfortunately, having the expectation that her voice would be so strong throughout all of Paradise turned out to be a misguided conception. In a manner very similar to the albums title, “Sexotheque,” and “Cruel Sexuality,” depict various relationship struggles. The cynical nature of such topics, combined with an overall slower vibe to album, causes Jacksons voice to fade into the background. On the first album there wasn’t second of sadness. There was plenty of anger, and a voice that could handle it. But throughout Paradise, words that were once crystal clear become muddled, as sustained notes lose their luster almost immediately. 

I am aware of Jackson’s health issues in the recent past, although I would only expect her to return to touring and recording if her voice was truly at its best again. Her voice could have fully recovered, and she might simply want to take her music in that direction, but one thing is certain: her voice is what made La Roux what it is today. If it ceases to stand out, it will soon be gone.

Harry Levin, Online Editor, Thumosaic Brainworks

thumosaicbrainworks.tumblr.com

Facebook.com/ThumosaicBrainworks

twitter.com/thumosaicbw

harrywilliamlevin@yahoo.com

Album Review: La Roux ‘Trouble In Paradise’

By Harry Levin

If there is one word that has described the career of Elly Jackson, its unexpected. Whether its her tomboyish appearance or the fact that her project, La Roux, began as a duo, nobody could have predicted the timeline of events that brought her to our attention. Trouble In Paradise, her latest album, is no exception.

All the way back in 2009 when electronic dance music was still dormant, La Roux released their critically acclaimed self-titled debut. Songs like “Bulletproof” and “Tigerlily” provided synth pop, a genre known for its minimalistic approach, with a powerful electronic edge. Jackson’s voice was a white-hot flame supported by an array of huge drums and grueling effects. Even though La Roux was and is a spectacular album worthy of recognition in and of itself, that wasn’t what took Jackson to the next level. 

No one foresaw the rise of dubstep, but Jackson had already demonstrated that her voice could hold its own against any backing track, no matter how raucous or noisy. Lucky enough for her, the two biggest dubstep artists on earth at the time (Skirllex and Skream) chose to take advantage of this by remixing “In For The Kill.” Both remixes became huge in a matter of weeks, and despite the fact that they both sounded totally different from the original, the name “La Roux,” is known based of the merit of Jackson’s voice (She even included Skream’s remix on the bonus track edition of La Roux).

Now that the hype surrounding the loudest forms of EDM is gradually diminishing, and Daft Punk has revived disco and funk, I had no idea how the already unpredictable La Roux, currently consisting solely of Jackson (another unanticipated transpiration), would break into this retro phenomenon. 

Considering the creative obscurity of her first release, I did expect Jackson to explore a whole different genre. Which one she would choose is irrelevant as long as she had maintained her trademark vocal intensity. “Let Me Down Gently,” the first single that was posted to her official Soundcloud page two months ago, confirmed my suspicions in that light. Beginning with a bouncing pop beat, the soulful sound that is Elly Jackson quickly enters over swirling synths, slowly building to a steady indie beat. Much less energetic than the first album, but still very groovy. “Paradise Is You follows this trend with more angelic vocals that slowly spread out into a harmonious series of echoes. “Tropical Chancer” makes a classic UK dub funky as hell.

Unfortunately, having the expectation that her voice would be so strong throughout all of Paradise turned out to be a misguided conception. In a manner very similar to the albums title, “Sexotheque,” and “Cruel Sexuality,” depict various relationship struggles. The cynical nature of such topics, combined with an overall slower vibe to album, causes Jacksons voice to fade into the background. On the first album there wasn’t second of sadness. There was plenty of anger, and a voice that could handle it. But throughout Paradise, words that were once crystal clear become muddled, as sustained notes lose their luster almost immediately. 

I am aware of Jackson’s health issues in the recent past, although I would only expect her to return to touring and recording if her voice was truly at its best again. Her voice could have fully recovered, and she might simply want to take her music in that direction, but one thing is certain: her voice is what made La Roux what it is today. If it ceases to stand out, it will soon be gone.

8.2/10

Harry Levin, Online Editor, Thumosaic Brainworks

thumosaicbrainworks.tumblr.com

Facebook.com/ThumosaicBrainworks

twitter.com/thumosaicbw

harrywilliamlevin@yahoo.com

An Interactive Rock and Roll Timeline: Natural Child @ The Satellite 7/19/14

By Harry Levin

Since its inception in 2007, Fullerton born Burger Records has established itself as label dedicated to the more raw types of rock and roll. With such eccentric musicians on their roster as Thee Oh Sees and The Black Lips, (the list gets louder as the names get more obscure), shows put on by Burger have been typecast as either testaments to the simplest routes to a fun show, or raucous hipster-fests, with a large possibility that there is someone in the audience who can out play anyone on stage.

If you left the Satellite in Silver Lake this past saturday before Natural Child took the stage, those descriptions would have been spot on, but Natural Child demonstrated that, in addition to Burger Records’ vast lineup of loud, there are also bands on the label that are truly dedicated to reviving every aspect of rock and roll. This became clear to me before it was even time for Natural Child set up.

Read more