LaRoux

Personal preference in music is determined when one finds something in a song, album or artist that they can relate to or that grabs a hold of them, inspiring and moving them in a way others cannot. It’s 2014, and it seems most pop artists are groomed for the sole purpose of making money, lining the pockets of people who couldn’t care less about the consumer or the artist. It's like art has been taken out of art and replaced with nothing real or important. Art Pop, my ass.

 A friend recently gloated that he was a marketer's dream when it comes to music. That's not exactly something to be proud of. What I respect about LaRoux is their independence and sense of “sticking it to the man;” they’re not some prepackaged product put together by corporate executives who only care about one thing: money.

Elly Jackson, the mastermind behind LaRoux, nixed her partner and cofounder after their successful Grammy-winning debut, which explains the title of the new LP, Trouble In Paradise. Now technically a solo act, the remaining cofounder Jackson took five laborious years to craft, plan and perfect her new LP. If you’ve listened to La Roux’s work before (“Bulletproof”) and you find the timber of Jackson's voice appealing, you will love this album.

I, however, have a contrasting view; I find Jackson's vocal timbre over bearing and shrill; it’s my main problem with her act. Her voice blankets most of the songs on the LP, sounding like fingers being dragged slowly and heavily across a blackboard. It acts as a distraction to the music.

Don't get me wrong: this is a solid effort when it comes to musicianship. Hearing Uptight Downtown with Nile Rogers-like guitars, behind what sounds like a female-fronted Duran Duran is exhilarating. At best, her talent becomes clearer when she is not forcing her vocals on songs like 80's reggae inspired, “Tropical Chancer.”

Trouble in Paradise brings up images of synthesized palm trees and neon sensuality without it appearing trashy—but, that voice! Oh well. She's got the look down in her videos with her decent 80's hair flip and pouty new wave expressions. From her interviews, you can tell Jackson is truly passionate about making music and is coming from a pure place, which is an admirable trait found in emerging artists.

“Sexotheque” is fantastic, using stop-motion percussion; the "money, money, money" line in the chorus fits perfectly with the rest of the song. “Silence” is another standout.

“The Feeling” closes the set out and has a Prince- and The Revolution-era feel, but doesn’t quite hit the target; it’s not the best way to end an album that had some strong moments. Over all, it’s a mixed bag of feelings for me. What do you think?