Breaking: La Roux

Who The U.K. synth-pop sensation — it's scored two Top Five hits in England — consists of striking androgynous singer Elly Jackson and behind-the-scenes beatmaker Ben Langmaid (he refuses to be interviewed or photographed and doesn't perform live). But Jackson is used to being the center of attention, for her hair — a red, Woody Woodpecker-style pouf — and her piercing voice. Says Jackson, "It's a massively powerful instrument."

Sounds Like Inspired by Eighties keyboard-and-vocal groups like the Human League and Yaz, La Roux's tunes — which the pair cut in Langmaid's living room — feature staccato synths over pulsing beats and Jackson's insistent, high-pitched vocals. "I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell," says Jackson. "But when I started going clubbing, I realized I didn't want to sit on a chair with a guitar."

Tears for Fears The dark lyrics — culled from sad-sack poems that Jackson wrote in high school — belie the album's euphoric vibe. The robotic-funk cut ­"Tigerlily" features lyrics about "lurking in the dark" and stalking a former lover. "All the songs are sad," says Jackson, who shed tears in the recording sessions. "It was quite intense."

Get It Now: Watch La Roux perform "Bulletproof" in the video above.

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