Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 2009 debut eponymous album by synth-pop duo La Roux.
My exposure to La Roux has been minimal until picking this album up. My gym regularly plays hit single Bulletproof (or remixes of), and that, alongside a few sightings of the album cover online, was all that I had explored.
The album contains four singles, opening with hit In For The Kill, which feels like an echo from a Kraftwerk track, with an almost Kate Bush singing over the top. It’s plain, simple, and catchy.
This runs seamlessly into second track Tigerlily, which as the sleeve notes features a ‘middle eight spoken by Kit Jackson. Inspired by ‘Thriller” – Kit being Elly’s father. It certainly reminds me of that Thriller intro too. It’s a slightly haunting childlike song, and one that I prefer over In For The Kill.
La Roux’s debut single Quicksand (see video below), is third up. Upon release in 2008, this single made it only to #129 in the UK singles chart. The synth bass line is lovely.
Single Bulletproof is a stroke of genius, musically and vocally. And the duo really shine here. I’ve heard a lot of remixes of this track, so it’s interesting to hear the album version. Like all of the tracks so far on this album, it continues with the heavy use of synths – simple and uncluttered, but expertly wielded.
There’s something catchy about the next track, Colourless Colour, and lyrically I could imagine this being a Pet Shop Boys track.
Up next is single I’m Not Your Toy, which follows perfectly on from all of the above tracks. Cover My Eyes follows this, and is the first track that sounds different – it’s more of a ballad that focuses mainly on Elly’s vocals, and they shine here beautifully.
I’m reminded of the vocals of Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Alison Goldfrapp in the track As If By Magic, but it fits right in. Fascination follows this and feels almost disco at times, with some great synth lines that make me think back to Erasure‘s Chorus album, although here the chorus lyrics feel a bit overloaded.
Track Reflections Are Protection feels perfectly 80s, and sits here well as an album track. This is followed by Armour Love, a slower track, again allowing Elly to show off the delicateness of her vocals, against some ‘phat’ synths and beats that build as the track progresses. It finishes with with an extended silence….
…which leads you to the final track, Growing Pains (noted here as a ‘bonus track’). This brings the album to a close with a nice little bouncy upbeat number.
It’s a great album, and one that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by. However, it is very much the same sound throughout, which is fine (for me) if you like that style, but if you’re not so keen, then this album might feel a bit like one big megamix.
A sticker on the cover of this album quotes the NME – it reads: ‘The final word in the synth-pop generation’. If this is the final word, then it would be a happy ever after. Give it a spin.
where are La Roux now?
Whilst producer Ben Langmaid left La Roux, Elly retained the name and released the second La Roux album Trouble In Paradise in the summer of 2014. It has been widely praised and described as a bit different in style, so I’ll be keen to hear that album too.
Pop Rescue RATING:
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 4 / 5
- 2009 UK CHART POSITION: #2, certified Platinum.
- POP RESUCE COST: £2.99 from an Oxfam store.