With all the hype surrounding new releases, it is much too easy to allow a gem like “La Roux” to slip from sight. But don’t let the unfamiliar name faze you, since this self-titled debut delivers a synthpop performance that is bound to skyrocket the band out of obscurity.
La Roux, meaning “the redhead,” is the brainchild of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid. Though the duo began in 2008, they are rooted in the music of the ’80s. Every track, from “In for the Kill” to “As If by Magic,” are accompanied by the ever-present synthesizer.
If you’re one of the few who has heard of La Roux, it is probably because of their hits “Bulletproof” and “In for the Kill.” The frontrunner, however, is clearly “Tigerlily,” a dance floor track that is begging to be the next single. It begins with warped, electropop chords paving the way for the staccato, defiant vocals of Jackson that fade into a softer and more seductive chorus, all backed by a contagious beat. “Tigerlily” glorifies tainted love; in fact, the majority of these songs seem to do this.
La Roux casts away the conventional and idealized notions of romance that overplayed radio singles love to whine about and sheds reality on love, as we can see in tracks like “Reflections are Protection.” There is also a strong sense of feminism, evident in “Bulletproof,” whose aggressive verses and energetic beat bolster the mantra that “this time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.” And let’s not forget “I’m Not Your Toy” (the name alone catches your attention, right?), a rebellion against, as well as a criticism of, the stereotypical role society forces on women.
But don’t be too quick to label La Roux as just another loud and bossy act. Its softer side emerges in “As If by Magic,” a forlorn and surprisingly sweet showcase of Jackson’s mellow side that evokes nostalgia.
La Roux’s debut CD shows us that catchy, danceable music does not have to be limited to auto-tuned or Disney-fied artists. After giving the album a try, there is no way to avoid the urge to dance around like a maniac. Take it from someone who knows.