Of the many big female hopes touted for chart success this year, Elly Jackson is leading the pack. How so? Well, VV Brown has yet to break the top 40, Little Boots’ album barely bruised it and Florence And The Machine seems to be having engine trouble. Only Jackson – aka La Roux – has scored a major hit single with In For The Kill and her follow-up Bulletproof landed smack on top of the singles chart yesterday. Now her self-titled debut album has arrived, brimming with synths, machines and all manner of 80s paraphernalia…
A few months ago, press reports claimed that the ginger-quiffed La Roux was falling apart under the pressure of expectation and her live shows were said to be patchy. Jackson kept quiet, released her single and let her music do the talking. Let’s not beat around the bush: this is a record that sounds like it could have been produced nearly 30 years ago. Jackson herself looks like she hankers to be in A Flock Of Seagulls, and listening to La Roux, we were transported back to drinking gin, lime & wine in an 80s Sarfend nightclub, replete with electric blue eye shadow and the stench of Elnette hairspray. The question we have to ask is: we lived through this once before, do we really want to do it again?
Well, yes. Because actually, we loved the 80s and that someone’s thought to reinvent it is as peachy as a bowl of Angel Delight and Arctic Roll all in one in our books. Sure, La Roux as a whole has a chronic case of synths and bleeps overload, but they’re all in tune with each other and goddamn, In For The Kill is a worthy chart charmer. High-pitched vocals wobble all over the shop and eerie background sounds abound as someone got over-excited with their Casio keyboard. Tigerlily is an ode to Jackson’s Thriller if ever we heard one, Bulletproof could be Yazoo, and Blancmange and Heaven 17 – who both Jackson and her co-collaborator state as influences – might do well to hose off the album to see their image reflected back. But beyond all the electro fuss are bankable tunes french-kissing swirling choruses and everyone loves a good-looking couple.
If you hated the 80s first time around, avoid. Otherwise, this is an album of flimsy 80s grating synths that’s as streetsmart as you could wish to deliver. If this album came up to you at your school disco, it’d be wearing drainpipes and have a limp handshake but you’d accept the offer of a dance anyway.
Review posted on June 29th 2009