In the middle of making its new album, La Roux’s original lineup dissolved. Elly Jackson has been the British electro-pop band’s voice and public persona (not to mention poster girl for amazing hair), but Ben Langmaid had been instrumental behind the scenes as her co-writer and producer. He and Jackson split on messy terms, but as Jackson told the Globe recently, his departure allowed her to take La Roux in a new direction.
Her creative rebirth is apparent on “Trouble in Paradise,” the follow-up to La Roux’s self-titled debut, which was a sleeper hit in 2009 that yielded the hits “Bulletproof” and “In for the Kill.” Jackson is more adventurous here, unafraid to take chances such as a nearly six-minute downer called “Let Me Down Gently.”
Except, title aside, it’s not a downer at all. Jackson nestles deep into its melancholy before the song splinters into distinct halves: a moody, mournful ballad that suddenly falls silent before coming back as a throbbing slice of disco. She wouldn’t have attempted that earlier in her career.
Most of “Trouble in Paradise,” though, relies on Jackson’s ear for exuberant melody. From the sweeping chorus and dub-inflected hook of “Uptight Downtown” to the seductive groove of “Cruel Sexuality,” this is La Roux in euphoric dance-pop mode. “Kiss and Not Tell” and “Sexotheque” deliver a sugar rush akin to a beach ball bouncing on a sunny day, and the tender optimism of “Paradise Is You” pulls back the curtain to reveal the big heart behind those big beats. Growing up suits La Roux. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Uptight Downtown”