When La Roux arrived in 2009 with its Grammy-winning self-titled debut album, the U.K. duo's music smacked of the future. Sure, the songs were rooted in British synth-pop, but the steely beats and singer Elly Jackson's unflappability suggested that mainstream music was morphing into something mechanically sleek, stylish and forward-looking. And then the group disappeared, as Jackson's vocal problems, exhaustion and friction with bandmate Ben Langmaid stalled album number two. Now, Jackson, 26, is back as a solo artist, with a lavish, enjoyable, but unspectacular album that dares to change course instead of furthering "La Roux's" revolutions.
The lean, nine-track offering finds Jackson swiveling away from icy electronica toward technicolor disco, with cheekily titled tracks like "Sexotheque" flashing funk guitar and percussion. Jackson's piercing wit is still present, but her vocals are warmer, her words now soaring alongside tracks instead of stabbing into them. "I hope it doesn't seem like I'm young, foolish and green/Let me in for a minute, you're not my life but I want you in it," she laments on "Let Me Down Gently." La Roux's sound, now overseen by Jackson and co-producer Ian Sherwin, has become more organic, and Jackson's presence as a frontwoman has evolved alongside it.