Five years is a long time to be away in the pop world.
For Elly Jackson, the voice and face of synth-pop act La Roux, such a break was unavoidable. In recent interviews, she has spoken of the enormous pressure the success of her self-titled 2009 debut brought to bear on her life, leading to the temporary loss of her singing voice and a split with her long-time collaborator, Ben Langmaid.
Yet, incredibly, none of that off-stage drama darkens a note on Trouble in Paradise, Jackson’s masterful sophomore album. Rife with infectious melodies and a sleek, breezy, throwback sensibility, these nine songs, some of which were penned with Langmaid, are coolly confident and crisply rendered. If ever a record were made to be blasted at top volume while roaring down Miami’s MacArthur Causeway in an open-top convertible, this is it.
Whereas La Roux favored austerity, Paradise embraces warmth. Jackson employs an intelligent sensuality on tracks like the lush Tropical Chancer, the flawless Sexotheque and the irresistible lead single, Uptight Downtown, which manages to evoke Daft Punk by way of ’70s New York and Studio 54.
With so many hurdles cleared before anyone heard a note of Trouble in Paradise, hopefully Jackson has made it past the worst and can enjoy whatever comes next. At the very least, this album — one of 2014’s best — will leave many hoping it’s sooner rather than later.