I've been thinking about it a for a while and it's time to talk about my favorite music of 2014. I know this is a gaming site, but you've played those and I've had less time this year than ever before to play them. I did listen to a lot of music, however. Nothing high-brow and certainly nothing that will impress anybody. But I don't listen to music to impress people. Who does?
"Trouble in Paradise" by La Roux
I really liked the first album by La Roux ("La Roux"). It was catchy and infectious. Really got in your ear and bounced around. You could like the songs immediately. This second album is somewhat different. At first, it's not as infectious. The addictive qualities are not quite so immediate. But on repeated listens, it gets stronger and stronger. Even early on, you can tell that this is a more focused album than the first one. There's a theme this time that unifies things more. That theme is basically, "Relationship problems and heartbreak in a tropical paradise". It all sounds so happy, and yet it's pretty sad if you pay attention to it.
La Roux, if you're not familiar, is an English singer/producer duo. The singer is Elly Jackson and the producer is Ben Langmaid. Or was. He left since the first album, though he still contibuted to this one. The first album was synth pop and heavily influenced by Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams). It has strong synthy bleeps and bloops, but singing that cuts through it. Very catchy stuff.
This album is something in the same genre, but very different. There's fewer electronic noises, in favor of some instrumentation. And while "La Roux" was urban and futuristic, "Trouble in Paradise" is tropical, slower and more casual. Nothing will get you immediately pumped, except for "Silence", an amazingly dancable banger that reminds me of the first album. But that no problem. In fact, these songs are more memorable and appealing on repeated listens. It's soft and tropical and upbeat-sounding, and it's got some infectious hooks. I generally associate tropical music with boredom, repetition and well, sleepiness. Not here. This is a tropical dance album by somebody who's last album was a cold, urbane, slickly-produced set of club-bangers. It's got some momentum and weight to it. It still speaks to me, a guy who generally runs from anything labeled "authentic" or "classic" and wants to be bludgeoned by his music.
A good example of everything this album does is "Sexotheque". It has a bouncing, swinging rhythm with a marimba tune. You could totally get down to it. The singing sounds great too and compliments the tune well. The lyrics, though, describe a relationship going wrong.
"She wants to know why he's not home I'll bet money-money-money I'll beeeet, he's at the sexotheque. He never answers the phone, I'll bet money-money-money I'll beeeeet, he's at the sexotheque."
What really makes this album so much better than the last, and a good album generally, is that it feels unified by it's theme. It's not so tighly cohesive that it doesn't go a little urban towards the end, but even then, it maintains the slower, more patient pace. It's not in such a hurry, but you'll still want to dance to it.
This is not an album I binged on as much as others. It's not designed to grab you by the blood-stream. But when I listen to it, I remeber why I like buying whole albums. Sometimes it pays off and you don't want to skip a bunch of tracks. It usually happens when the musicians actually wanted to make an album. It also helps when the songs themselves can stand up on their own.
So, what did you think? I don't do many of these blogs, both because I just started doing them at all and because I have a nasty habit of abandoning things part-way, when I write anything for the internet. By all means, speak yourselves in the comments.