A decade ago, La Roux were a musical duo, producing Grammy winning 00’s floorfillers, heard everywhere from Radio 1 to school discos, and characterised by energetic electronic basslines. However, the third studio album, Supervision, reinforces a sharp transition from this commercial and dance-focused sound.
After an internationally successful first album, Ben Langmaid decided to leave La Roux, turning it into a solo project for Elly Jackson. Since Langmaid’s departure, La Roux’s music has developed a buoyant beachiness, which was first encountered on her second album, Trouble in Paradise, and continues now on Supervision.
The last album marked an innovative rejection of disposable chart music and so the potential for Supervision was huge. But sadly, the new album seems to regurgitate the mood and techniques of Trouble in Paradise, thus making La Roux’s exit from electro-pop slightly less exciting. With every song stretched out for a minute longer than necessary and the relaxed beats growing frustratingly repetitive by the third track, it makes it difficult to fall in love with the album.
This doesn’t mean Supervision is an unenjoyable listening experience. ‘Gullible Fool’ layers synths, piano, drum loops to create a feel-good summer barbeque track, while ‘International Woman of Leisure’ pairs a feminine vocal with feminist lyrics to formulate an empowering anthem just ahead of International Women’s Day. There are remnants of New Wave fossilised into all her melodies, but these aren’t quite subversive enough to surpass a restrained coffeehouse sound.
After the first album, Jackson told NME “I’m not going to stop writing until we’ve got songs that can compete on the same level as ‘In For The Kill’ and ‘Bulletproof’” so this updated sound, which prioritises vibrancy and relaxation over commerciability, demonstrates a healthier headspace and less competitive writing process. But perhaps Supervision lacks a little fighting spirit. It seems La Roux has struggled to situate herself in the dichotomy of her two previous albums, but if you’re looking for some music to unwind to, this could be for you.
Last modified: 21st February 2020