Five years can feel like an eternity in pop music, especially when you’re out of the limelight. You don’t need to remind Elly Jackson. As the voice and face of La Roux, the English electro-pop band that gave 2009 some of its most delicious hits with “Bulletproof” and “In for the Kill,” Jackson was a star at age 21. La Roux’s self-titled debut went multiplatinum, and ended up winning the Grammy for best electronic/dance album in 2011.
Then Jackson went away. And came back, briefly, for a handful of shows last year. Then she was gone again.
The hiatus could have derailed her burgeoning career, but instead it allowed Jackson to step back and survey the tidal wave that had just hit her. It was a period fraught with growing pains, both musically and personally. Ben Langmaid, the producer who had founded the band with Jackson and stayed mostly behind the scenes, left the lineup in the middle of making of La Roux’s second album; it’s apparent that Jackson has moved on, but still feels the sting of his departure.
With a tour that brings La Roux to the Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday, the band has finally returned. The new record, “Trouble in Paradise,” is also set for release on July 8. It resurrects the big bounce and sparkly melodies of the debut, but it also allows Jackson to stretch and explore denser song structures and darker moods.
On the phone from London, where she lives, Jackson says it’s good to be back, but it was also great to be away for a bit.
Q. “Let Me Down Gently,” the first teaser for the new album, moves away from the propulsive synth-pop fans have come to expect from you. It starts on a melancholy note but then, after a moment of silence, opens into this resilient bit of disco. Was that song a turning point?
A. That was a big moment for me, because I realized it was a song that didn’t need a traditional chorus. That was a sign for me of breaking out of a normal pop structure and just doing what the music and song are asking you to do, regardless of whether you think a song that’s 5½ minutes with two parts is going to be successful on the radio. It’s very vulnerable for the first time I sing “Let me down gently,” but the second time I sing it, it’s like, “Go [expletive] yourself.” I think that’s what it needed. So that song set a precedent for the rest of the record of not following the rules and just doing what’s right for the music.
Q. I liked that song because it felt like you took a risk.
A. I felt that as well. You can know that you love a song and think it will be successful, but you’re never sure what to come out with first. That’s such a hard thing to call. And when you have been away for a while, you’re never sure of whether people are going to have allowed you to expand or whether they’re going to want to hear the same thing again. I knew that I didn’t want to do the same thing again.
Q. How are you doing on your own since Ben left the band?
A. I’m fine. It was two years ago, so it did happen quite a long time ago. Like I’ve said before, in any breakup or split it’s emotionally complicated. I can’t sit here and say it was a nice experience, but I never, ever would have done it had it not been exactly the right thing for me to do for this record. I feel like the record is proof of me making the right decision.
Q. Are there things you accomplished on “Trouble in Paradise” that you wouldn’t have as a duo with Ben?
A. Of course. If I couldn’t say yes to that question, that would be really weird. Of course there were things. A lot of it was stylistic, partly because there was a personal breakdown in our relationship and the songwriting became harder and harder, and less and less fluid. There were still fluid moments, however, and some of the songs were born out of those moments. I felt stylistically, even when we had written songs together that were great, like “Paradise Is You,” we weren’t moving in the same circles.
Q. On a frivolous parting thought, I have to ask: What’s up with your hair these days? Your swoosh of red hair became a signature look back in 2009.
A. I have to say, my hair has been very different for a couple of years now. A lot of things have changed in five years, inside and out.