Singer-songwriter and fashion trendsetter Eleanor ‘Elly’ Jackson aka La Roux released her third studio album, Supervision, with material solely written by herself and released on her own label, Supercolour Records after breaking ties with Polydor post-2014’s Trouble In Paradise.
It’s never easy for any artist to replicate the same degree of chart success when your debut album becomes a Grammy winner (Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2011) with worldwide club hits like In For The Kill and Bulletproof.
After the release of second LP Trouble In Paradise and parting ways with Ben Langmaid in 2014, Jackson kept La Roux alive by lending her voice to New Order, Whyte Horses and Tyler, the Creator. She even ‘upstaged’ UK pop icon Lulu (in a cameo role) in 2016’s Ab Fab: The Movie.
Jackson’s love for new wave is still very present when 21st Century kicks off the 8 track LP with stabbing synths and Nile Rodgers like guitar riffs. Totally danceable but lacks the fun of Uptight Downtown that opened the previous LP. A similar rhythm style and beat count leads into Don’t You Know with a funky bass line… was that a brief sax solo at the end? Must be my imagination or my preference for 2014’s Let Me Down Gently, co-written with Langmaid that featured a fabulous sax solo at the end.
Singles Automatic Driver and International Woman Of Leisure are playful with lots more hooks for Jackson’s vocals to glide along with. Stock Aitken Waterman would be happy to hear their Eurobeat sound remains in Everything I Live For. Vince Clark (Erasure) and Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) might both raise an eyebrow on how Jackson has followed their penchant for sweet blending harmonies and synth hooks.
The 7 min long Gullible Fool is nicely accompanied by piano and opens up some new doors for Jackson to explore this track and perhaps the earlier Everything I Live For in a more acoustic manner.
Jackson had said she wanted to bring more ‘organic sounds’ to her new work but clearly this did not happen on Supervision. Otherside and He Rides follow a similar formula from earlier songs in the album. The LP does feel somewhat rushed and could have been the effects of starting over with new material after Jackson’s recent breakup with a longtime partner. Some brass and drums (not drum machines) would have added another dimension to Jackson’s repertoire.
But, even though Supervision does sound repetitious, it still contains quirky and ‘cute’ synth flourishes that keep the flow of the album entertaining. Unfortunately, the melodies don’t quite reach the point where they become infectious and memorable. The whole album lacks finesse, but consistent and a recipe for DJs to remix and re-imagine.
The latest album from La Roux is not as 'bulletproof' as their debut but it demonstrates that Elly Jackson possesses a decent level of staying power as a solo artist and producer… charting her own course and attempting to discover her own sound.
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Released: 07 Feb 2020