La Roux’s ‘Supervision’ is a 21st century masterpiece.


Supercolour Records

The cover of La Roux's third studio album, 'Supervision'.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

English synth pop act La Roux formed in 2006 as a duo consisting of Eleanor “Elly” Jackson as the lead vocalist and Ben Langmaid as the main producer. Their debut single, “Quicksand”, was released in December 2008, and their debut self-titled album followed in June 2009, earning them massive mainstream success with the hit single “Bulletproof”, which debuted at #1 on the U.K. Singles Chart.

Their second album, Trouble in Paradise, was released in July 2014 after several delays resulting from Jackson’s health scare in early 2011 — she suffered muscle tension in her throat that inhibited her ability to sing after repeated panic attacks caused by extensive touring for the duo’s debut album — and the departure of Langmaid in February 2012 over creative differences.

Trouble in Paradise marked a shift in the direction of La Roux’s music from 8-bit-infused, synth-heavy pop to a disco, funk, and new wave-inspired style. Unfortunately, Langmaid was not pleased with this change in sound, which ultimately led to his decision to leave the duo. He did, however, contribute to five of the record’s nine songs as a songwriter, making it his final project with Jackson.

Now a solo act, Jackson began writing material for the third La Roux album in April 2015 and stated she wanted it to have a “more earthy”, “organic”, and “soulful” sound. The original version of the record was scrapped in late 2017 following a mental breakdown, and in early 2018, she started the project over from scratch.

In October 2019, “International Woman of Leisure” was released as the lead single from La Roux’s third studio album, Supervision — her first album in over five years, her first release as an independent artist after parting ways with Polydor Records in 2015, and her first fully-solo project.

Arriving in early February, Supervision is a vibrant work of art that continues the post-disco, funk, and new wave sound of Trouble in Paradise with an even more polished approach and discusses themes of love, moving on, and freedom through simplistic production and mature, thoughtful lyricism.

“21st Century” opens the album on a progressive note with bright synths and Jackson’s signature falsetto vocals as she sings about moving forward in life for the sake of the future. It’s followed by “Do You Feel” — a groovy banger about self-discovery and questioning reality in order to learn more about one’s self.

The third single, “Automatic Driver”, is a funky heartbreak anthem about wishing to have gotten more out of a relationship whose lyrics juxtapose themselves against the upbeat production, and La Roux breaks free from the heartache on “International Woman of Leisure”, moving on and enjoying life on a worldwide expedition of self-empowerment with a feminist undertone.

Supervision has received mixed reviews from critics due to its repetitive instrumentation and rather lengthy tracks — each song runs for an average of five minutes — with some calling it “tedious” and “frustrating”. I, on the other hand, argue that this record includes some of La Roux’s best music to date, as it’s super smooth, easy to listen to, and incredibly satisfying — but don’t just take my word for it, listen for yourself.

Supervision is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream Supervision on Spotify:

Watch the music video for “International Woman of Leisure”: 

Supercolour Records
La Roux in the music video for “International Woman of Leisure”.