The reason I’ve punctuated this post with a question mark is because I don’t think La Roux ever really needed to make a comeback at all. For starters, she (I’ll use La Roux and Elly Jackson interchangeably, since – in my mind – they’re essentially the same entity) has released only one full-length album so far, the chart-topping, single-laden, Grammy-winning La Roux, in 2009. So why does mainstream media keep framing her sophomore release, July 2014’s ironically titled Trouble in Paradise, in terms of a “comeback” narrative?
Certainly, the five-year gap between records spawned some listener concern, which intensified following news that Jackson had split (rather bitterly, according to this report … and this one) with longtime collaborator Ben Langmaid. Then a Guardian feature published in May detailed revelations about Jackson’s struggles with severe panic attacks and performance anxiety, conditions that developed in the wake of La Roux’s meteoric success.
Yet the fears were unwarranted. Trouble in Paradise has exceeded my expectations and offers a warmer, soulful, more instrumentally varied version of La Roux audiences haven’t heard before. My favorite tracks after a few listens are probably “Uptight Downtown,” “Cruel Sexuality,” and the subtly catchy first single, “Let Me Down Gently.” Not to sound fanboy-ish, but Jackson’s just a wonderful artist, one who sounds stronger after all that she’s been through. Still, in the immortal words of LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback!”