La Roux - In For The Kill

Tim Miller 16/03/2009

Rating: 4.5/5

As one of the crop of new talent to emerge at the beginning of 2009, La Roux will no doubt be comparing success against a solo female barometer of Little Boots, Lady Gaga and the returning Lily Allen come the end of the year. Who out of these young starlets will be gunning for the title of pop princess of 2009? Will one of them have the commercial or critical acclaim of Duffy or Adele respectively? And who will be the first to sleep with Russell Brand?

If Lady Gaga laid down the gauntlet with dancefloor smash 'Just Dance', La Roux is next out of the blocks - and frankly, storming ahead - with her stunning single 'In for the Kill'. Built on the fragile foundations of a Soft Cell drum machine beat, La Roux (real name Elly Jackson) lays bare her soul through her lyrics. Jackson's rich, fervent vocal is at once anxious, determined, enticing, vulnerable and yet forceful: I defy anyone to listen to the way she sings ”And now let go of my hand” without wanting to do the exact opposite.

Though she sounds almost startled, like a rabbit caught in headlights, it is she who traps the listener, there being little else but the beat, a bouncy bass and off-beat synth chords to detract from the stark La Roux vocal. Jackson's insistence on hinging her verse melodies around one particular note is enchanting, haunting: equally so in the glimmering breakdown that hints at stratospheric, Madonna-level pop songs.

Are they allusions? Or delusions? It's certainly not the latter on this evidence; 'In for the Kill' is a four minute, emotive, retro-pop masterpiece, delivered by one of the most unique vocals you're likely to hear all year. Though 'Quicksand' was her first single - similarly beguiling and catchy - here La Roux starts her quest for solo female stardom proper. It's a daunting benchmark already for anyone attempting to reign her in.