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Album Review: Lights – Little Machines

5 min read

In 2010, electro-pop beauty Lights brought to us one of the finest releases of the year in the deliciously flavoursome, synth-pop shape of The Listening. The record was the first to introduce us to the Canadian musician with numerous hit singles being cast from the record including Saviour and Drive My Soul.

Her sophomore release, 2011’s Siberia, dove into more mature and acoustically inspired synth-pop with lead track Toes forming the initial foundation for the record and its success and musical direction paving the way for the release of an acoustic version not long after.

Lights Little MachinesFans who have remained patient for something new are rewarded this month with the musician’s 3rd studio record being unveiled and it proves that like a fine wine, it was well worth the wait. It’s been 3 years since Lights released a new studio album and changes in her life including getting married and becoming a first time mother, introducing daughter Rocket Wild Bokan to the world, have only inspired the singer more as she shifts into this new phase of her life and the release of this new collection which is as grounded and seem-less as a pop record is going to get.

Little Machines takes us back to the musician’s debut style as opposed to following up on the sound delivered through Siberia so fans of The Listening should be extra eager to get their hands on this gem.

We are ushered gently into Little Machines by the mellow Portal which is a musically contrasting and sedate intro for the record. The track is pulled tightly together by a soothing hum of a synth and doesn’t push us too far forward too quickly; helping ease us into Little Machines gently, but things don’t remain down-tempo for very long, something we have learned with previous Lights records. This girl loves to move and with the majority of the album, she does just that.

If Lights was to ever collaborate with fellow electronic artist St Lucia, then the end result would probably sound a lot like the following Running With The Boys. There is a lot if spangly guitars thrown into the mix here, giving the number a slight indie-meets-EDM feel while the verses and chorus’ of the song set off a plethora of hooks to make this one well worthy of being a successful single cut for the LP.

Next up is Up We Go which, unless you have been hiding under a rock over the last month or so and shying away from YouTube, is currently doing rather well as the records fronting hit – and the video that comes with it is also quite cheeky. The song carries a style and sound not too distant to songs from her debut. It’s an eccentrically wonderful offering, radiating positivity as the singer declares “down this road it’s only up we go” over a colourful foray of guitars and spacey effects. Without doubt it is one of the finest singles of her career so far and a great launching point for Little Machines.

One of the finest inclusions sitting within the new record is Speeding. The track delivers a message of not looking back on the past with the musician declaring “the world in the rear view mirror doesn’t matter / I won’t be coming back here ever” in the tracks bridge and telling us “it feels good to be moving on” during the songs positive chorus. The verses are engaging with Lights bouncing up to some sweet vocal peaks at the end of each sentence, providing the tracks hook while the following Muscle Memory is another staple to Little Machines as we are driven through a playful 80’s-esque melody with atmospheric bridge and some haunting backing vocals snaking through the chorus.

Further into the record Meteorites is a sublime vocal staple; the singer gliding into a breathy falsetto during the chorus and providing us with a few sing-along moments while How We Do It sounds like it could have easily been a big single from the musician’s The Listening LP.

Closing hit From All Sides showcases the musicians skilled and distinctive vocals while the instrumentation carries an almost seductive pulse and courses with a brief hint of Americana; a complimenting steel string guitar giving a subtle country twang to the album before the closing chorus delivers a raw and acoustic album outro.

While it is hard to make a claim that Little Machines is Lights’ best work to date, because I am such a committed fan of her debut, it follows extremely close behind. The record boasts a tight track-listing that will sweeten the tooth of even the most hardened music fans. It’s synth heaven with spacey effects falling from each track and hooks being thrown at you from all directions. Like her debut, and to a slightly lesser extent her sophomore LP, it is everything that makes for a memorable pop record.

There are so many incredible pennings within this record that it is almost painful to attempt to name a favourite and that is what makes Little Machines an exceptional effort from the Canadian singer-songwriter.

Let’s be honest – the last decade has offered very little in the way of memorable records given that most acts these days are pumped out of the reality show factory overnight for short-lived success. Either that or we are forced to endure supposedly credible musicians trying to gain credibility through twerking and bouncing their asses all over the place in music videos (*coughMileyCyrus *coughNickiMinaj). Thankfully there is hope offered from a handful of artists like Lights who may not be part of the mainstream wave as much as they should be but who remain in tune with their audience and continue to create personal and relevant masterpieces like the musician has done here with Little Machines. For that they should be commended.

If you only commit to buying one pop record this year – let this be the one. You won’t be disappointed.

2 thoughts on “Album Review: Lights – Little Machines

  1. I’ve had this album on repeat for the past 24 hours. Each time I listen to it I love it more and have a new favourite song.

    You’re right, there are so many brilliant songs on Little Machines, it’s so hard to pick a favourite. If I had to, it would be Same Sea.

    I like that Lights does something different with each album. They don’t all sound the same but they are all unmistakably Lights.

  2. I agree. I agree so hard. Man, this album is great. It’s better than great.
    Hence the agreement on the five star front…!
    And every time I listen, I hear something new.
    I can’t even type properly.
    just <3

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