Fans of former duo La Roux are feeling a bit like the friends of an ex-couple going through a divorce. And as is also sometimes the case in that scenario, one of the pair is making everyone uncomfortable by lashing out at their former partner.
After winning a Grammy for best electronic album in 2011, Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid officially split ways in 2012, leaving Jackson to continue under the La Roux moniker as a solo artist.
Langmaid had never toured or appeared in music videos with the project, but co-wrote and produced their 2009 self-titled debut album. But while Jackson has been diplomatically blaming the split on artistic differences, Langmaid put a different spin on the situation in a series of tweets this Monday.
He referred to Jackson's new collaborator Ian Sherwin as "an idiot," a "poacher" who "couldn't write a nursery rhyme," and blamed him for the split. (Langmaid's Twitter account is currently inactive). He then went on to joke that Jackson could only play the triangle, in response to comments about Jackson being credited as a multi-instrumentalist.
In comparison, Jackson had a very different tone when describing what went wrong with the aborted initial recording sessions with Langmaid for the new album "Trouble In Paradise" to HuffPost Canada after her Toronto show last month.
"The whole thing wasn't really fully formed at that point, so it was no one’s fault. Obviously I always want to make pop music, but it was leaning in a certain direction of pop music that I wasn't so keen on, and that I kind of felt that I didn’t want to lean towards any more than I already had. It’s difficult to explain exactly how the songs were different from what ended up on the album, but I guess in a way they were too youthful for me.”
One of the biggest shifts from the debut is the amount of live instruments. Whereas their earlier material had a certain tinny synth pop shine to them, the new material sounds much more like a band, referencing the NYC underground disco side of the '80s more than the UK electro pop scene.
"There were times I think at the very beginning of the record where we tried to do things in the old way but with my new references and vision for the stylistic direction, and it just didn't work treating recording in the same way. It needed to be looked at in a whole different way -- in a more live way -- and we spent a lot of time making that right."
According to Jackson, the disco and dub references on the new material replaced the synth pop partly as a result of her burning out on the sounds that initially brought La Roux fame, rather than a reaction to the breaking of her partnership with Langmaid.
"I still love and respect the bands we were referencing on the first album, but I don't really listen to it anymore. I've always over-listened to a bunch of stuff for a period of time and then moved on."
For most modern musical acts, taking five years between albums is a gamble too risky to take, but in this case taking her time to reinvent her sound has resulted in very positive reviews for the new record. Just don't refer to it as a comeback, or call their long break a hiatus.
"I hate the word comeback -- I never wanted to have a comeback because I never went away. I just went and made my album, and it just took a while. I didn't have a big team of songwriters and producers like some people do. It was just me and a guy in a room for two years, which can take a bit longer.
"And obviously we had that weird false start to the record before the split, and basically had to start again, which is not easy to do. It takes time, but we just had to do what we had to do to make the record we wanted to make. I don’t think that’s weird, but I guess I'm on the inside of it."