Don’t Turn off the LIGHTS

Following up last week’s post on Carly Rae Jepsen, here we have another Canadian pop artist I’ve followed over the years.

lights via iamlightscom
Photo via iamlights.com

I remember first hearing about Lights in middle school, shortly after the release of her debut studio album The Listening (2009). I think one of my friends sent me her song Saviour.

Typical pop trash?

At first, I thought it was trash. But my initial impression was still way more favourable than my first impression of Carly Rae Jepsen. Lights had a unique voice, and although coated with Auto-tune in Saviour, it was still identifiably unique. Sort of ethereal, young, and innocent sounding. A kind of voice not often heard in mainstream pop.

Eventually I found her music tolerable, and wedged her firmly in the “meh” category.

While I found Lights’ voice kind of alluring at first, the novelty of it eventually wore off, and I found myself bored with her synth pop music. In 2011, Lights released Siberia. I found it to be pretty mediocre overall. Three years later in 2014, she released another album, Little Machines. This one I liked even less. I felt like electro-pop as a genre had been exhausted at that point.

Another three-year gap while we all get older

Lights took another three-year break between Little Machines and her next album. During this time, I was finishing high school. It’s about the age where you start to realize it’s okay to have your own opinions.

Hard thinking opinions, like whether Lights is good or bad. Well, based on her discography, I was leaning more towards not good. But like Carly, her latest album blind-sided me. You know I’m really glad I don’t disregard artists the minute they drop some crap, otherwise I would’ve never given these albums a chance.

SKIN & EARTH (2017) – Unexpected 🔥🔥🔥?

 

74ab5bd2fb3d3c63be25a6ed85b72a8d.800x800x1
Album Artwork via Genius

This album… IS EXCELLENT. SUPERB. MAGNIFICENT. NICE. 🔥🔥.

Like I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard Lights hit some of the notes she sings on this album. Some of her vocal tones here are very sultry and R&B-like. There are even times where you can hear the aggression in her voice. And she tackles some genres and beats she’s never done in the past. I didn’t even know Lights could sound like this.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Lights says of Skin & Earth “I’ve always been okay with being this kind of ‘niche,’ ‘alt-pop’ thing, but with this, I was like, ‘I’ve put so much f—ing work into this sh– I want people to hear it.’ I had to make these songs accessible and big. I wanted to push myself out of those boundaries because I wanted to reach more people.”

I’m still shocked really. Even more so by the fact that she writes almost all of her stuff. Some of these melodies are incredible. I don’t even care that she “sold out”.

I’m still shocked really. Even more so by the fact that she writes almost all of her stuff. Some of these melodies are incredible.

And like Carly again, it had me questioning “Is this the same Lights?” You know what, here’s what I experienced from BOTH Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, and Lights’ Skin&Earth.

  • Better/impressive display of vocal capabilities
  • Better/impressive display of songwriting
  • Genres not visited previously (Carly – 80s disco pop, Lights – Sexy R&B)
  • Not trash

I mean seriously, what is it with these artists nowadays? Maybe it’s because Carly and Lights are Canadian, and I always root for the home team, or maybe it’s because artists are beginning to conform to music that I enjoy. This album is up there as one of my favourites of the year.

 

It’s not the old Lights though…

 

Lights_Valerie_Poxleitner@_CNE_01
Photo by Shandi-lee Cox via Flickr

 

Now here is a big IF and MAY for you. IF you liked the old Lights, like LOVED the old Lights, this MAY NOT appeal to you.  My advice is to listen to it regardless, but I don’t want to hype this shit up only for you to be like “Darren you asshole, this is trash. I can’t believe they let someone like you loose on the internet”.

It’s true though. This does seem to totally miss the synth-pop sound normally associated with Lights’ work. Her voice is still here though, and on some of these beats sounds better than ever. Just do me a favour and listen to Savage. That guitar rift is just murder. It sounds indie, like the kind of song Suits would use.

From what I understand (based on YouTube views), Lights is even more unknown than Carly, who I already feel is criminally underrated because of her Call Me Maybe stint. Please listen to Lights’ newest album, Skin&Earth, and spread it around if you enjoy it. Or in the words of Lights on Savage, “Won’t you scream it out like it’s religion?”

lights via iamlightscom2
via iamlights.com

And let me know what you think. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Did I waste your time again?

 

 

-A5c

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