Going In For The Shrill.

By Adem | July, 14, 2009 | 5 comments

LA ROUX
La Roux
(POLYDOR) B

La Roux’s Elly Jackson has one of those voices you either love or you hate. Or, in my case, are confused about. The often shrilly nature of her warbling is either an incredibly unique or truly horrifying trait. And whilst I’m not 100% sure of which team I bat for (one minute I love “In For The Kill” and the next I want to pierce my eardrums with an ice-pick so I never have to hear anything ever again), the evidence on this (unimaginatively self-titled) debut is clear – in the Pop realm of things, La Roux mean business. But is just ‘meaning business’ going to be enough to herald this as the triumphant pop recording so many have labelled it as?

“In For The Kill” opens the long player complete with its KASIO-101 stylings, before launching into album highlight “Tigerlily.” There’s no shrilly-vocal action here; it’s just a straight-up, bona-fide, classic pop song, complete with a brilliant chorus, great lyrics (“I can see you burning with desire for a kiss” / “I don’t like the taste of demorality”) and an ace nod to the talky-bit from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the 2 minute, 18 second mark. Future single?

The records other truly spectacular moment comes in the form of “Colourless Colour” (in which Jackson sings about “early 90’s décor”), whose instrumental breakdown at the 2 minute 30 mark is one of the most exciting sequences of constructed musical notes to come out of pop in a very long time.

Use and abuse in the game of love gets coverage through the cute “I’m Not Your Toy” (with lyrics such as “You don’t want me, you just like the attention”), “As If By Magic” sounds like a lost Sophie Ellis-Bextor recording (this is a great thing), “Reflections are protection” serves as a jolty pop stomper, and the records first single, “Quicksand”, still remains one of last years absolute greats. Interestingly, current single “Bulletproof” seems to give off a sense of it being a song with everything (including the kitchen sink) thrown into the production process. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not entirely evident it has worked for “Bulletproof” and, some would say, the Jury is still very much out on the outcome.

There are some truly awful moments on the album though, particularly dreary ballad “Cover My Eyes.” Although the lyrics are great, the song as a whole package just takes the mood of the record down about 20 notches, and serves as a glaring filler-moment, one which adds unnecessary boredom in between killer-moments such as “I’m Not Your Toy” and “As If By Magic.”

NME recently claimed that this album was “the final word in the synth-pop generation.” People all over the place are heralding La Roux as some crazy outstanding saviours of pop. Yes; the album is good, but is it the latest provider of pop salvation? Not exactly, no.

For those keeping score, at this point; Little Boots = 01, La Roux = 00.

COMPETITION! Thanks to Universal Music Australia, I have 1 (one) copy of La Roux’s self-titled debut to give away. You MUST be a resident of Australia (sorry International readers) to win this prize. Simply email me with your name, address, telephone number and the funniest joke you know before Friday, July 17 5:00PM EST. The person with the best joke will win. The person with the worst may actually get something too.

5 Responses to Going In For The Shrill.

  • Glenn

    See, I’m not that keen on “Tigerlily” and don’t like “Colourless Colour” and I do like “Cover My Eyes” because it sounds like a piece of music if “Miami Vice” and I like her vocals on it. Blah. I was totally expecting more though since I absolutely died for “In for the Kill” and “Bulletproof”

  • Ken

    I think the album has its own ups and downs, I agree, Elly’s voice is really good but can be irritating at some parts. Quicksand, Bulletproof are both aces and the remixes are fab.

    Awesome review, btw. :D I’m a fan.

    RE: CONTEST
    Unfortunately, Universal Philippines has not yet known of the album. I’m excited about its release here. Defo gonna buy it.

  • Yuri

    I agree her voice is polarizing, but I think you’ve been a bit harsh on Miss Elly and Ben here (with the B rating). Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the shrill is a bit much for me too, but songs like As If By Magic and Colorless Colour are fabulous so all is forgiven.

  • Aaron

    Fantastic review!

    While I’ve held off on giving this album (and Little Boots’ – I’ll make the connection, even though I don’t like it!) for as long as possible. But if one act gets so much courage and praise, I do suppose I’ll have to cave soon enough.

    I caved straight away after hearing the iTunes snippet of LB’s Remedy, but I gave the La Roux ones a listen, and those combined with the stuff I’ve heard haven’t really driven me to seek the album out yet – Maybe it’s harder to love?

  • johnee

    La Roux is amazing. I love that her voice is totally unique, totally her own, you KNOW it the second you hear it. It’s like hearing Bjork or Kate Bush or Regina Spektor. I’m not really comparing them, I’m just saying that I like the sonic identity she has. I’ve long awaited this album and given it a once over and thus far I’m not disappointed. It’s not amazing, but I feel like in years to come Jackson will create a sound totally unique to the rest of the world.

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