laroux_LEAD

Trouble in Paradise is a straight-up 80s record. Not a ‘hipster 80′s-revivalism, but mixed with shoe gaze, indie rock something else’ record - just 80s synth pop. As a fan of the high, catchy-as-hell vocal lines of their previous single “In for the Kill,” but decidedly not into anything related to the decade of Seagulls, this album is not an easy bedfellow. With that said, the motif behind La Roux lyricist Elly Jackson’s latest is wrought with some entertaining narratives, from street violence to a handful of lovelorn aches, but mostly falls off the ear as unmemorable.

Uptight Downtown

The verses here act as neon, reverb-y remixes of Arcade Fire‘s “Neighborhood #3,” but the track does branch out as Jackson ponders the urban rat race. There’s also an undertone of street violence, but it’s implicit (opting for the old 80’s “temperature is rising” metaphor, instead): [LISTEN]

Uptight Downtown

Kiss and Not Tell

With sonic nods to (or heavy borrowing from) “Heart of Glass,” in both melody and background chords, this track’s title gives most of the gist of this liberation-through-anonymous-hookup track. An objective bright spot: the interrogation-room arrestee metaphor for her subject’s hidden desires: [LISTEN]

Kiss and Not Tell

Cruel Sexuality

Love may be a “battlefield,” but it’s a battle of back-handed “cruel[ty]” where smitten people surrender to abuse from the objects of their affection. It’s the catchiest track yet, it doesn’t borrow from well-known hits, and it’s the most likely so far to cross-over to non-80’s enthusiasts (ahem): [LISTEN]

Cruel Sexuality

Paradise is You

D’awwww. Tropical dreamlands are hollow and meaningless without “you,” the one who makes it all better when “all the roads ahead stop looking new” and “everything I know is slipping out of view.” The several-layer vocal round at the end makes the track pop a bit, too:

Paradise is You

Sexotheque

80’s goes island-tourist-radio – complete with the chords – on a “bad-boy/good-girl” jam that hinges on a sex/discotheque portmanteau. Allusions to a “red light” district’s prostitution spice up the latter half slightly, but it doesn’t give the feeling that any sort of unique story is being told: [LISTEN]

Sexotheque

Tropical Chancer

Jackson’s accent has mostly been absent on this album so far, but has come out here in full force. Her dalliance with a manipulative, “love-em-and-leave-em” con man coined a phrase perhaps never uttered before (tropical chancer?), so that’s something: [LISTEN]

Tropical Chancer

Silent Partner

Her surprisingly dark thirst for “silence” and retreat from a “racing heart” might hit harder with a heavier backing track for some, but others will find the driving typical-80’s beat a perfect match (a la “Somebody’s Watching Me,” only faster). Still, even Rockwell’s hit had more sonic creepiness:

Silent Partner

Let Me Down Gently

The former-duo’s comeback single is a lovelorn breakup ditty that understandably doesn’t quite have as catchy of a main melody as their previously mentioned last ear-worm, but the production is much improved. Hopefully the bro-steppers leave this one alone, though: [LISTEN]

Let Me Down Gently

The Feeling

On the final song of the album, the drums finally get a bit of variety. Jackson also gets a warm-and-fuzzy “feeling” of infatuation. And we, the listener, once again get a few unique lines after a full song of fluff. Like many tracks before it, it’s pleasant but unmemorable:

The Feeling