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La Roux

Submitted by on Sunday, 11 January 2009No Comment

la-roux

Hometown: Brixton, London.

The lineup: Elly Jackson (vocals, keyboards).

The background: She’s 20-years-old, she’s managed by the same team as Klaxons, and she’s called La Roux from the French for “red-haired one” – to be specific, she’s got A Flock Of Seagulls hair, which makes sense because her music recalls the Golden Age of bizarrely-coiffed synth pop. Not that A Flock Of Seagulls were part of that Golden Age – no, sir, or indeed madam, they were the fag-end of said historic, world-changing movement – but that’s the period her irresistible, infectious computer ditties evoke.

Make no mistake (OK, go on then, maybe one mistake), she’s a solo female synth star in waiting, the other one, after Little Boots. She uses her keyboard – as do today’s other synth-stars in waiting such as Frankmusik, Charli XCX and Lady GaGa – to tell tales about and give insights into her life and all the heartbreak, frustration, wonderment, invincibility and fragility that she’s experienced. Can you experience invincibility and fragility? We weren’t so sure – until we heard La Roux. Now we’re convinced.

Like the Human League, Soft Cell, Yazoo, OMD, Eurythmics and Depeche Mode before her, La Roux sees electronic musical equipment not as cold instruments of aural torture and imperious alienation but as ways to soundtrack her stories in the most immediately accessible way possible. Put it this way: this young woman cries, actually sheds tears, between vocal takes. That’s how much her music means to her. And soon it will be making you weep, too, and not just because of that hair-do.

Weirdly, Jackson grew up humming, not Love Action or Just Can’t Get Enough, but her dad’s Neil Young and Nick Drake records. When she was in the sixth form she began strumming her self-penned songs to friends on a battered old acoustic guitar (we’re just saying it was battered for poetic effect). At a house party one night, her heartfelt warbling so bowled over a local sound engineer that he began calling producer pals in the crepuscular early hours, just before dawn’s morning light (more poetic licence – it was actually three in the afternoon). One of them, Ben Langmaid, was so impressed he agreed to become Jackson’s studio partner. So he gave her a Korg keyboard and, before you could say, “I believe, I believe what the old man said/Though I know that there’s no lord above/I believe in me, I believe in you/And you know I believe in love/I believe in truth though I lie a lot/I feel the pain from the push and shove/No matter what you put me through/I’ll still believe in love”, those raggedy acoustic laments had been transformed into pristine machine melodies with shiny cyber beats and computer-perfect arrangements.

There haven’t been that many robo-pop females – Annie Lennox, the Human League girls, er, that’s it – but Ms Roux could well be the next to add her voice to the sound of the crowd.

The buzz: “Things are going to kick off quite nicely for the fantastically-haired La Roux next year.”

The truth: It’s going to be between La Roux and Little Boots as to which cyber diva makes it in 2009.

Most likely to: Keep feeling fascination.

Least likely to: Get a Classix Nouveaux cut.

What to buy: Debut single Quicksand is released by Kitsune on December 15.

File next to: Little Boots, Frankmusik, Eurythmics, Blancmange.

www.myspace.com/larouxuk

Paul Lester/guardian.co.uk

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