La Roux

La Roux

Trouble In Paradise

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(Polydor)

FIVE years is a long time in pop between a Number Two debut album and its follow-up. Part of the delay can be put down to the departure of Ben Langmaid, the instrumental half of La Roux, leaving singer Elly Jackson with extended musical, writing and production duties (although he retains credits on six of the nine songs here).

It's worrying for the future, then, that her solo writing credit is closing track The Feeling, a tuneless, shapeless waste of space that ends the album at its lowest point.

Previously La Roux stuck more doggedly to the 1980s Erasure/Yazoo synthpop formula than most of their peers, with Jackson's forced falsetto uncomfortably shrill even on a hit single such as In For The Kill. This time her voice is lower (but still disappointingly thin), there's more guitar in the mix, and the chirpy hooks embedded in the likes of Kiss And Not Tell and Sexotheque succeed as pop for pop's sake.

Elsewhere, however, a shift in retro inspiration results only in splashes of watery funk, out-of-date disco-reggae and awful lyrics ("I met him through a dancer/Didn't know he was a tropical chancer"). In recent interviews, Jackson has namedropped Grace Jones and Donna Summer as influences; the reality, sadly, is a modern-day one-woman Bananarama.

ALAN MORRISON