LIGHTS – Siberia
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Record Label: Lights Music/Last Gang Records
I was never really a fan of Lights Poxleitner (better known as just LIGHTS) until I heard her stunning guest vocals on Bring Me The Horizon's 2010 release There Is A Hell, Believe Me I've Seen. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret. I thought her debut album, The Listening, was less than stellar and her vocals damn near impossible to stomach. But when LIGHTS turned in a confident and mature performance on the aforementioned album, it showed me that her best days were still ahead of her and with her second album, Siberia, those days are coming sooner than later.
The production on Siberia is pristine. LIGHTS teamed up with Canadian electro quartet of Holy Fuck to mix and screw some of the tracks, turning them into colossal movers and shakers. It's incredibly accessible, as the melodies and choruses stick to you like glue. The pulsating title track opens the album with its heavily synthesized background will put you in a dream-like state, whereas “Where The Fence Lies Low” slows down the tempo a bit yet incorporates a sharp, booming chorus.
First single “Toes” has an infectious, breezy feel to it, but don't let the bubbly exterior fool, as Siberia contains a gritty underbelly. The harsh wobble to “Everybody Breaks A Glass” will resonate throughout your body (Shad makes his first of two fantastic cameos), while the off-beat glitches of “Banner” keeps Siberia unpredictable. Things get a little monotonous in the middle, as as the lack of variety on “Timing Is Everything” and “Peace Sign” may cause listeners to check out for a minute, while the soft echo of electro-ballad “Cactus in the Valley” offers nothing interesting and doesn't play to Poxleitner's strengths.
My main complaint regarding Siberia is LIGHTS' safe vocal performance. There a few instances throughout that album where it'd be nice if Poxleitner would expand her vocals. Her vocal performance isn't bad at all, and there are times where it really works, such as “Suspension,” where she lets her voice take a backseat to the scintillating electronic layers hidden throughout the beat. But I know she can be a better vocalist, as she proves it on the album's best tracks “Flux and Flow” and “Fourth Dimension.” The former features urgent verses that burst into a dark, primal release over the chorus, while the dubstep influenced latter showcases Poxleitner at her most liveliness. Both tracks show LIGHTS willingness to experiment with not only her voice but with her music as well, and the end result is exemplary.
There is definitely a cool eloquence to Siberia, as LIGHTS has progressed impressively as an artist. There are more than a handful of standout tracks here, with only a few duds sprinkled in (avoid the aimless closer “Day One” at all means). Poxleitner plays to her strengths throughout, which works nicely and will appeal to many listeners. But the glimpses we get of LIGHTS pushing its musical boundaries (such as the aforementioned “Flux and Flow”) makes me wish we got more of those moments on Siberia. Still, this is one of the better electro-pop albums of 2011, one that will stimulate your senses and rope you in with its instantaneous catchiness.