“All along I’ve had feelings I can’t help, makes me want to kiss and not tell/ And all I want is to come right out of my shell, makes me want to kiss and not tell.” So sings Elly Jackson on “Kiss and Not Tell,” a glittery, perky, Eurodisco-inspired track from the singer’s second album, Trouble in Paradise. It’s been about five years since the first La Roux album, which feels like a decade accelerated by the fast-churn of the internet, and despite a Grammy Award, and features on two Kanye West projects (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch The Throne) we still know next to nothing about the Tilda Swinton-lookalike with the curiously wooden soprano.
That’s what’s so great about Trouble in Paradise: It’s a personal record from today’s rare private star. We don’t know what her feelings are, who the androgynous-looking ginger wants to kiss, or who the seemingly duplicitous “he” is on “Tropical Chancer,” an amazing downbeat disco tune that sashays almost as hard as the Nile Rodgers and Carly Simon classic, “Why.” There is no alternative narrative clouding the nine propulsive, studiously retro, keen and thoughtful dance tracks. In any other context, a song called “Sexotheque” could be absurd or smutty, but Jackson — breathless on the hook, the lustiest we’ve ever heard her — turns it into a somber and reflective relationship narrative.