It’s been just over five years since La Roux’s last release, but unfortunately, Elly Jackson’s latest release, Supervision, feels like a brief extension of that album rather than its own achievement. After such a great record with 2014’s Trouble in Paradise and after such a long absence, it does feel a bit disappointing to hear Supervision, which at best feels a bit undercooked.
The album is slight, with just eight tracks. The length of each track often extends beyond the traditional pop boundaries of three-and-a-half minutes, which means many of the tracks extend far enough to let you drift away on their rhythm. While this length often worked on Trouble in Paradise, here several of the songs linger on so that you may forget you’re listening to them. There isn’t as much dynamism to be found within or between the tracks, so there isn’t much to actively hold your interest for five minutes.
It’s easy to draw comparisons between Paradise and Supervision because the new album shares many sonic similarities to the first. The general atmosphere of a 1980s cabana nightclub is just as present, and in songs like “Otherside,” you’re actively reminded of the 2014 single “Tropical Chancer.”
In general, the lack of variety is what dooms Supervision. The first two tracks sound quite similar, with just a slight change in the vocals of the chorus of “Do You Feel” that helps to differentiate the moods of either song. The two singles, sandwiched in the middle, do provide the most punch. “Automatic Driver” and “International Woman of Leisure” both inject a little much-needed life into the album, but not quite enough to make an immediately lasting impression. “Everything I Live For” shows us a slightly softer side of Jackson’s vocal range, which is appreciated, as she stays mostly in one or two similar lanes throughout the album. The final tracks fade into quiet, with “Gullible Fool,” leaving barely a trace of Supervision once it’s finished.
The album is not a wash, despite what it may sound like. The songs are fine and are easy to let glide over you as they unfold over 42 minutes. The songs are still in the throwback pop genre, which La Roux leaned into successfully with her first two albums, which give them some undeniable level of charm. However, they ultimately fail to make a significant impression, and due to their similarity to the tracks of Trouble in Paradise in tone as well as subject, the eight tracks end up sounding like B-sides to that sophomore album. Supervision is ultimately a slow, long-delayed fadeout to a prior project.