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La Roux singer Elly Jackson is the kind of pop star that the British music press loves, the kind who says the problem with pop today is that “The music’s shit. I know no one wants to hear it, but that’s why.”

Her outspoken nature has made the androgynous 22-year-old a sensation in her native Britain. Well, that and her hairstyle, which makes her look like Hermey the Misfit Elf from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Reportedly, there are young women all over England trying to perfect the right mixture of mousse and hair spray in order to look like her. Oh, and there’s one more reason that Jackson is a big star at home and is quickly becoming one in the United States as well: La Roux’s music is not shit.

With her musical partner Ben Langmaid (who does not tour with the traveling version of the band), Jackson creates catchy synth-pop in the style of ’80s English acts that went out of fashion before she was born. Songs like “Bulletproof” and “As If by Magic” sound as if they were lifted off an early John Hughes movie soundtrack.

Of course, La Roux is hardly alone these days in mining the ’80s for inspiration. But unlike, say, Ladytron or Ladyhawke (the latter being one of the few of Jackson’s contemporaries for whom she expresses admiration), Jackson doesn’t sing with the detached cool of Depeche Mode or the Human League but with the emotional exuberance of Yaz and Erasure. In the early ’80s, that combination of cold synth sounds and soulful vocals seemed modern. Today it seems nostalgic. But, in the hands of La Roux, it sounds as fun as it ever did.

Past Event

La Roux

  • Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 7 p.m.
  • 4th&B, 345 B Street, San Diego
  • $23
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