Album Review :: LIGHTS

Looking back on the last two weeks and all the albums that have come out, some conclusions and misconceptions can be drawn about music and bands today. New Found Glory can, in fact, put out an incredibly mediocre record. Joe Jonas can release an “Explicit Content” record without Minny and Mickey tracking him down executioner-style. And Evanescence is still a band. Yeah, I didn’t know either.

But pleasant surprises, huge victories, and welcome corrections have come up in these jam-packed two weeks as well. Transit put out one of the best albums of 2011, Deas Vail hit #1 on the Amazon digital charts, and then LIGHTS happened. I feel like LIGHTS especially deserves a sticker on her album clarifying two majorly important facts:

Misconception 1: Dubstep is just for massive frat tools who want to jam on Thursday night.

Until two weeks ago, I was a strong lobbyist for this. Falling asleep to a neighbor’s “WUB-WUB-WUB-WUBWUBWUB” music blaring in the middle of the night on a Tuesday could turn anyone into a hater of the phrase “drop the bass”, but LIGHTS’ new record, Siberia, goes ahead and incorporates dubstep in an incredibly tasteful, dare-I-say beautiful way. Which lends itself to the next misconception…

Misconception 2: LIGHTS is just a pretty face. Talentwise…eh, not so much.

The whole “Lights is hawt…durr” reaction that most male fans/AbsolutePunk users give off…well, it’s justifiable obviously. Okay, there’s a reason she’s the center of the album cover with just grey around her. She’s hot. And seriously, her shirt is buttoned crazy low. Like LIGHTS’ headLIGHTS are about to pop out.

But here, like most men, is where I would leave my thoughts on LIGHTS if I hadn’t heard Siberia. Her voice never did anything for me previously and her music…eh. But Siberia presents an entirely new LIGHTS. Her voice is nowhere near a whine anymore or grating, but refreshingly fun. And the songs themselves show a darker edge to her electronic-pop sound. The album opens on the title track, breaking in with distorted beats and a light chorus guided by LIGHTS’ gentle voice. “When The Fence Is Low” takes the album to another level though, wearing its dubstep influence very proudly throughout the chorus. Normally, pop and dubstep = things that make my ears bleed and cry simultaneously. But the dub beat backs a soaring chorus and harmonies that, combined, equate to gritty, yet insta-catchy pop. The album focuses on this gritty, distorted electronic sound, bringing out a little growl in LIGHTS on tracks like “Everyone Breaks A Glass” and “Flux and Flow”. The album does carry on a bit too long at 14 tracks, but the albums presents only two or three songs that lag. And, fellow dubstep opposers, you’re probably asking if the dirty electronic sound gets tiring. Sure, a little bit. Tracks like impossibly long closer “Day One” and the album’s ballad “Cactus In The Valley” fall a little short. The reason? They’re the only slow songs on the record, sugary enough to fit in with LIGHTS’ previous releases. For the most part, gritty goes hand in hand with catchy, making a fun, yet fluffless pop album.

4 out of 5 Stars

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