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La Roux - 'Bulletproof'

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Fraser McAlpine | 13:50 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

La RouxFor some reason - possibly related to broken wine glasses and shattered ear-drums - La Roux is one of those pop people who polarizes opinion, even among fans of sugary chart pop. Compared to the backwards-over-falling reception Little Boots seems to be getting, La Roux has already managed to get people's backs up with only the one hit single to her name so far.

This is partly because she is such an ardent '80s revivalist, which seems a little self-defeating when the genre you're trying to resurrect is the forward-looking futurefest of early '80s electropop. She's looking backwards at something which was looking forwards at the time, in much the same way that Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene chased the mod dream, even though being a mod started out as a statement of NOW, against the traditional THEN of the rockers they fought.

Still with me? No? Then read on...

(Here's the video. Nightclub toilets are so extravagant these days, don't you find?)

But whatever the reason, the one sentence that crops up most often goes something like this: "...yes, 'Bulletproof' is brilliant, but...", hinting that this might be a song which possesses magical powers of persuasion.

The reasons for this are very clear, even after only a cursory listen:

1: The verses are marvellous.

2: The chorus is marvellous.

3: The music serves the song brilliantly. In the tough, yelling "up yours, Grandad!" verses, it's all about the jackhammer pounding, white noise whiplash and clockwork rigidity, sounding not unlike Saturday night in a Cyberman's nightclub. In the chorus, things start to melt into each other, no doubt warmed by the optimism in La Roux's voice.

4: Speaking of which, there's less of the shrill to the singing. No wincing or sticking your fingers in your ears this time around. This may be the single biggest reason that 'Bulletproof' is winning round the La Roux haters.

5: The vocoder breakdown. THAT'S how you do robotic voices, Autotunerizers!

In fact, when they finally get around to doing an electropop special on the X Factor, this would be a perfect addition to the set list. And she's even got the comedy hairdo, for extra dressing up points.

Now, who volunteers to go and tell Simon he's got to squash down the middle of his flat-top, to get that Flock Of Seagulls look?

Five starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: June 22nd
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Brönette says: "Who doesn't love atmospheric, smoke-filled, Rick Ocasek inspired videos?"
Breaking More Waves says: "Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, Sugababes, your time is up."
Singles Jukebox says: "I simply didn't think La Roux had it in them to make something as ace as this."


  • Comment number 1.

    Oh Fraser.... back on form !
    Crackin review !
    Even the first 2 paragraphs were relevant to the song ! Wow...

    Bulletproof boasts a huge memorable chorus, that will help propel this song into the top twenty , for sure.

    She looks like a star, I love the androgeny....
    This song sounds like it could have been on Depeche Mode's 1981, Speak and Spell album , sang by a sexy ,female singer.
    That's a huge compliment.

    Bulletproof is "A" listed at radio 1, and the album " La Roux " is out on June 29th....

  • Comment number 2.

    Extra star given for mentioning one of the 80'S most under-rated bands...

    A Flock of seagulls.....

    Fraser, if you are too in awe by Jimmy's presence , to do another How to Destroy, then how about posting a photo of you in the 80's with the eyeliner and the back- combed hair ?

    I have been informed that certain photoes exist........


  • Comment number 3.

    I'm still not sure whether spiritwarrior is on my case or not but great review, think the song is pretty good now but its growing on me more....

  • Comment number 4.

    Looking back at the last 25 reviews I can count 1 ... maybe 2 songs that would get a 5 star from me. This is the one .. Little Boots - New in Town is POSSIBLY the other.. but even that little pop masterpiece pales in comparison to this. So I guess just the one .. and this is it.

    (I thought The Veronicas would be in the last 25 reviews, they werent, cause that also gets a 5 star from me).

    The review of it says it all (best review Ive read in a while btw, nice work). Its just brilliant. I think In for the Kill, Quicksand and the other screech filled over synthed 80s throwback stuff is pretty awful (I love most of the other synthed, 80s throwback stuff other artists are producing) .. but this is virtually perfect. I am one of those people who you wrote this review about!

  • Comment number 5.

    Flatknees, trust me I am right with you for seeing excellent , informative reviews for every song on this blog.
    The La Roux one sets the standard, absolutely spot on, and this is the quality I wish to read every time in a review.
    Right with you.
    Ok ?

  • Comment number 6.

    yea, we cool. An interesting question as to whether zinc's remix of this will be as popular as skream's version of in for the kill remains for me though...

  • Comment number 7.

    Cheers Flatknees , I will go and have a listen and report back.
    Anyone else think that Eleanor shares a passing resemblence to the gorgeous actress Tilda Swinton ?

    Elly completes my top 4 sexy girls with red hair, including Carol Decker, Tori Amos and the lovely Nicola Roberts.......

  • Comment number 8.

    The Zinc remix of Bulletproof will prove massive on the dancefloor.

    You can really appreciate the sheer strength of the vocal melody lines on this track , and the main hook of the chorus.
    It's a winner.

  • Comment number 9.

    I actually think Tilda Swinton is a bit of a hag, myself. Although to be fair, she doesn't make the most of herself.

  • Comment number 10.

    What I meant to say, of course, was that I don't personally find Tilda Swinton as appealing as might some others, although this could be because she takes an individual approach to her presentation which isn't to my specific taste.

    Hopefully the blog police will be happy with my nice, bland expression of opinion now. Tilda IS probably reading, after all.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nice one Curtains.. much better. lol

    Tilda may be reading, I am aware, as I am sure that some of you are , that some high profile pop people avidly read this blog daily !

    And also ,one well known chart star is among us making regular blog entries .

    The world is sometimes more intimate than we think. :)

  • Comment number 12.

    Bono, is that you again? I told you, you get the good reviews when you write the good songs. Sheesh!

  • Comment number 13.


  • Comment number 14.

    The weird thing is, despite some of our reservations over "Magnificent ", and it only reaching number 42 in the u.k. it is currently number 1 in Spain !

    That does not suddenly make it a better song, (lol ) but does goes to show that in culture as well as music , things are enjoyed differently in different countries ............

  • Comment number 15.

    Fraser , can't wait to read your Florence and the Machine review, which is rumoured to be coming soon.

    The word on the street is that you have put a lot of love into this, and it is one of your best yet !

    Can't wait ! :)

  • Comment number 16.

    some say its gonna be the most emotional review since film critic's review of pearl harbor.....

  • Comment number 17.

    Flat .... lol lol

    Hey just heard Jay- z's new single...

    " Death of the Auto-tune ! "

    Love it.

    Big up tp the playlist panel today... you got it exactly right !
    Lovin the speed of change and welcoming of the new, happening tracks.
    Superb stuff !

  • Comment number 18.

    Just heard Calvin Harris's smiley new dancefloor anthem..

    Ready for the weekend !

    It's another slice of 80's inspired dance happiness with a killer chorus..

    Another top 10 hit Mr Harris.

  • Comment number 19.

    Much better from Laroux. Frankly consideing what I had heard from both of them I was hugely dissapointed with both Laroux and Little Boots debut singles. hey both have far better tracks to come.

  • Comment number 20.


    Ah Bulletproof! like it very much, except for that one of the chord changes in the chorus isn't what I always expect it to be it goes major rather than minor or something (I ain't no music theorist) but I am sure someone will know what I mean.

    And all this nonsense about what she looks like! It's an image. She is clearly very nice looking. So is Tilda Swinton, at any rate, it hasn't done her any harm being distinctive.

    Not, of course, a patch on Little Boots in that department, as you know I am honour bound to say...


  • Comment number 21.

    wht a stupid song. she is a weirdo but the song is just SOMETHING ELSE!

  • Comment number 22.

    I really love this song!

    I didn't get why the critics would harp on about how great this duo were when they released In For The Kill earlier this year.

    While she undeniably had a powerful voice, I found it far too screechy and I thought the icy synths did not go well with her voice.

    But on this song, the production is fantastic, the synths like they should be soundtracking some '80s arcade game and thankfully Elly Jackson has ditched the hawk voice and actually sounds like Katy White from The Ting Tings.

    Oh and the Tilda Swinton comparison is a good one, they look like long lost sisters.

    And for those who say Elly Jackson is ugly, well a lot of people might have said the same about Tilda Swinton but I think she has this real willowy other-Worldy beauty which really showed in that Narnia film!

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm glad it's not just me that thought sitting down in a small room with black tiles = lavatory.

    On the other hand, the Pussycat Dolls' "Hush Hush" has just started on the telly, has spent the first minute in a moderately ordinary looking bath... which as the show proceeds, appears to be in one of M. C. Escher's houses. Which makes the plumbing extremely difficult, I assume. Anyway, advantage Pussycats.

  • Comment number 24.

    And the naughty cats, then have the nerve to start singing "I will survive " by Gloria Gaynor , a number one in 1979 , halfway through.

  • Comment number 25.

    No surprises on the number one for this. What a track.


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