REVIEW: LIGHTS – SIBERIA (2011)
Mezzic would like to introduce a new contributor today! From Toronto, Canada we are very excited to have Cala. Cala is a student who spends hours on the internet listening and finding new music. Cala is also a musician, she plays guitar. Occasionally you can find her playing original songs at her school.
Anyone who is familiar with the Toronto-based signer’s video blogs will tell you that she’s pretty much perfect. Many people, (myself included) are captivated by her nearly constant smile and bubbly personality. which make her fun to watch, and listen to. That being said, I occasionally worry that I’m listening to her music because of her, and not because of her music. Lights, Valerie Poxleitner, released her debut album, The Listeningin 2009, which received mixed reviews. Many people complained about her over processed vocals, and horrific use of auto-tune. (Despite the fact that auto-tune was used quite sparingly.) The truth is, The Listening was an alright album, with a few standout tracks, and a fan base of galactic proportions.
Many critics dismissed her as yet another pop singer, but few would have guessed the direction she would take next. Lights’ sophomore album, Siberia is radically different from The Listening. Instead of the polished synths that made up her first album, there’s a darker dub-step influence to Siberia that makes it grittier than her first album, while keeping that distinctive Lights sound. Siberia is still her usual electro-pop, but you can hear the dub-step influence. This influence is especially noticeable on “Flux and Flow”, a track featuring Canadian rapper, Shad. The first single, “Toes,” despite being a bit repetitive, has catchy hooks. There is a new intensity to this album that really catches my attention. An urgency can be heard on one of my favorite tracks, “Fourth Dimension”, that I never heard on The Listening. Instead of picturing spaceships and shooting stars, you get an itch to dance as she announces, “Dear we’ve touched the fourth dimension.” Not to mention it’s refreshing to hear Lights make use of her killer range. A range that can often get lost amidst all the synths. “Peace Sign” has one of the catchiest hooks I’ve heard in a while. While “Heavy Rope” has softer, more dreamy music juxtaposed with dub-step, topped off with incredibly catchy lyrics.
The slower ballad on the album, “And Counting” is one of the most original love songs to come my way, where the music expresses more than words can. The completely instrumental “Day One” is brilliant. The story goes that on the first day of starting to process of making her second album, the Toronto based electronic duo, Holy Fuck came by and jammed with her for a couple of hours. From the recording of that jam session, Lights took about eight minuets of this and voila! it became the closing track on Siberia. What you are hearing on this track is 100% live, and proves more than any other song that Lights is incredibly talented. On the downside, there are some songs that really don’t do much. “Cactus in the Valley” feels a bit boring compared to the rest of the album. It doesn’t do the original justice, which is a big disappointment because the lyrics are some of my favorite off the entire album. Guest rapper, Shad works well with Lights, but simply didn’t add anything to the songs. All in all, Lights has managed to grow as an artist, managing to combine her own unique brand of dance/electro pop with dub-step to create a strong and unique sophomore effort.