Friday, May 8th, 2009

La Roux – Bulletproof

Mr Moore readies his controversy stick…


Keane Tzong: “Bulletproof” is polished and hooky, characterized by a brittleness (both in the vocal and instrumental) that hints not at detachment but at barely restrained emotion. The chorus, lyrically repetitive but sung four different ways, adds to the air of tension and uncertainty, and the bridge functions not as a climax but merely an addition to the anxiety. Considerations of the screech (which here is quite restrained, honest!) aside, there’s not much to complain about here — that is, unless you hate Yazoo, since this is basically “Don’t Go” with handclaps. But when could comparing something to “Don’t Go” ever be classified as a negative?

Edward Okulicz: Having noted that La Roux are a “they” not a “she”, it’s worth pointing out that most of the things that are wrong with their songs are down to her. Her shouting is preferable to her screeching, but she still comes across as unsympathetically hectoring – the melodies have a bleak, snappish quality to them which I find quite unplesasant. Perhaps the bloke has some input into the lyrics, but I’d keep quiet about that too if I were him. Sounds like it was composed on a Sega Master System this time, which is a small step up.

Ulrik Nørgaard: Beaver-faced mogul Simon Cowell often tells talent show contestants that they’re “shouting” the song, and that this is a bad thing. Well, La Roux is SHOUTING “Bulliiiiiiiiit Proof!” and it’s fucking brilliant. What’s more, the bouncy drum machine and gleaming, retro-futurist synthlines on poppers, will no doubt turn the dancefloor’s regular Joe into a moustachioed, swaggering villain from Miami Vice.

Jessica Popper: They’re usually considered to be an 80s-style band, but this sounds more like something an undeservedly unsuccessful 90s girlgroup would do. I’m very pleasantly surprised, because I simply didn’t think La Roux had it in them to make something as ace as this.

Dave Moore: This is an improvement over her last single, in the sense that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a post-traumatic memory of that final dentist drill OOOOOOOOOOOOOH. But the arrangement still sounds like a MIDI demo and, adrift in blah (or is it feh?), she still clings to the melody hook like it’s going to save her life. And now she’s bulletproof, like that moment in a horror movie where the bad guy seems to have died prematurely: “But wait… isn’t there supposed to be another twenty minutes?” She’ll be back, and she’ll be big. Cue fleeing Japanese.

Hillary Brown: Actually, their last single was better. This isn’t terrible, but it is a little too much of the same thing.

Martin Skidmore: Less horrible than their last one: the music still sounds like an amateur version of ’80s synth pop acts, but I think she’s in a slightly lower register here, so sounds less screamingly horrible. There’s half a tune in there too. It still strikes me as rubbish, but I don’t hate it as much as the predecessor.

Martin Kavka: This is slightly better than “In For The Kill,” but all the improvement is because of the beat, which comes close to subdividing the two and four into thirds. Elly still sounds like fingers on a chalkboard, the lyrics are still insipid, and the main keyboard riff still sounds like an early version of Space Invaders. I do hope that the where-are-they-now show on which she is doomed to appear airs in 2010.

Doug Robertson: Last time La Roux made an appearance in the Jukebox they quickly proved to be like Marmite; brown, sticky, and full of yeast. Oh, and pretty much everyone hated them apart from a few of us who flew the flag for their bleepy, off key, aceness in the face of those who saw them as bleepy, off key arseness. This isn’t going to change anyone’s mind; all the ingredients that raised the hairs/hackles of the various reviewers are still very much in evidence and, while this isn’t quite as brilliant as In For The Kill, I’m still going to stand firm and declare my love for the band, despite the burning torch wielding mob visible on the horizon. Just call me Igor.

Alex Macpherson: So it transpires that Elly Jackson actually has another vocal mode than the full-on shrill demonstrated so horrifically on “In For The Kill”; and, once the initial relief has dissipated, it also turns out that she’s an inept frontwoman even when making some vague concessions to the idea of singing. “Bulletproof” is an improvement in that it won’t make your ears bleed, but Jackson just has no idea how to convey any emotion at all; what should be a defiant, triumphant song ends up as a relentless nag about nothing.

Jonathan Bradley: The scrappiness makes “Bulletproof” seem underthought, but that doesn’t mean it’s without a certain lo-fi charm. The stray, almost unconsidered synth bleeps and Eleanor Jackson’s barely-hanging-on vocal give the tune an immediacy that does much to salvage its dearth of actual ideas. I liked “In for the Kill” quite a lot, but as much as I admire the moxie of the follow-up, it’s simply too unimaginative to be a genuinely excellent song.

David Raposa: Relentlessly retro (yeah really!) in sound as well as in execution — everything in this track sounds so sharp and tinny and state-of-the-art in that instantly-dated 80s style, I half-expect Nina Blackwood to cut in and segue into a Human League interview. Miss Jackson’s artless sing-shouting conveniently dovetails with both the frantic synthesizing and the faux tough-talk in the lyric. “Quicksand” gave me a neon headache (which might be similar to what Ed experienced with “In For The Kill”), but as long as I remember to keep the volume down, I can get with this just fine.

Andrew Brennan: I like this a lot better than In For The Kill. It sounds like the Ting Tings on top of a video game synth treatment, but it’s understated and kind of works. I think the harmony when she’s singing the word ‘bullet’ sounds a bit off, but otherwise it’s decent electropop.

Jordan Sargent: As much as I want to question what at all this is bringing to the table, “Bulletproof” is just a great little song with a sneakily great melody and a beat that stays out of the way. Still have no idea why other people in the world care about La Roux, but this halfway justifies their existence.

Michaelangelo Matos: This hits me like a cheaper, more concussive version of the Pete Hammond remix of Alphabeat’s “Boyfriend”–I realize there are far more on-the-nose comparisons to be had, but this is so grating I can’t be bothered.

14 Responses to “La Roux – Bulletproof”

  1. Sorry, La Roux, the stick sez that Lonely Island is more controversial than this. Clocks in at a pitiful, but still qualifying (i.e. 2+ average deviation) 2.03, or 20th place.

  2. It does surprise me that La Roux are so controversial. These two singles are catchy and immediate, if not mind-blowingly creative, and I thought we were past the time when somewhat screechy vocals in sharp pop was so unthinkable. Fits well, in my opinion.

  3. Not unthinkable, just unlistenable (except this track is charming and I’d have given it a 7 if I’d had a chance to listen to it before yesterday).

  4. The “bloke” in La Roux is Ben Langmaid, best known up until now for creating the Gladys-Knight-sampling “Help Me Make It” with Rollo, and producing some tracks for (shudder) Kubb.

  5. And is that photo supposed to substitute for a pitch for Elly to star in a remake of _Orlando_? DO NOT FUCK WITH THE SWINTON, ELLY ROUX. I MEAN IT.

  6. Wow, she looks a lot like Tilda Swinton. I was wondering who she reminded me of!

    Her voice doesn’t bother me that much on this one (it pierces my eardrums w/o cause in the last one), though she’s still trying way too hard to sell the melody — the arrangement just feels lazy and unmemorable.

  7. I didn’t send in a blurb because I had nothing to say, but this probably would have been a 6.

  8. Great video wasted on screeching harridan singing a boring song. I can’t even bring myself to blog it which is a shame as there have only been about three videos out this year with a budget over 30p :(

  9. Melody-wise for me its: “Quicksand” > “In For The Kill” > “Bulletproof”.
    A bit off topic, this interview confirms Elly’s total cluelessness as she claims her new video is NOT 80s. WTF?

  10. La Roux are TERRIBLE

  11. Months behind on checking this out, but I’d give it a 7. Definitely like it more than “In For The Kill”; probably more than “Quicksand” too. Never heard any of the three before this morning, being on the other side of the planet and all. Completely stumped on why some people hate them; they’re better than lots of other songs heard here lately.

  12. I really don’t like la roux. I think there’s one song on the album that i like. All of the others sound exactly the same. She’s got that voice where you can listen to it for a couple of minutes…and then it really gets on your tits!!!

    I don’t like elly either, having an opinion is great but i think she comes off as a total bitch – like what she said about girls getting raped WTF is that about??!! I also don’t like the way she thinks she’s the biggest popstar ever…cos she’ll be forgotten about next year…hopefully XD

  13. i am loving la Roux to bits,they have there own style of music and are just brilliant,ellie is her own person and i love the hair and make-up in bulletproof……x

  14. After much radio exposure of this song — it somehow became a big hit in the U.S. a year after the fact — I’d easily give it an 8 now. Definitely one of the catchiest pop hits of the year. I’m even starting to get why people say it sounds like Yazoo.