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Album Review: Lights – Midnight Machines

3 min read

Canadian electro-pop songbird Lights has been a tour de force in the pop world since the musician released her debut album, The Listening back in late 2009. Since then she has dished up a string of releases that have helped solidify her place as one of the most unique and distinguished new artists in pop. Her sophomore release – 2011’s Siberia – dove a little more into Americana/folk than her debut effort but still retained a strong synth-pop vein, particularly throughout tracks like the lead single, Toes and Where The Fence Is Low while follow up LP, Little Machines, Light’s third studio collection which was released back in 2014, took fans straight back into familiary electro-pop territory with tracks like Up We Go and Running With The Boys providing further evidence of Lights’ seemingly effortless ability at penning infectious and radio-friends pop hits.

Lights Midnight MachinesThroughout her career, Lights has filled in time between studio albums with acoustic EP’s; starting with Lights Acoustic dished up soon after the release of The Listening and Siberia Acoustic following the release of 2011’s Siberia sophomore. Re-imagining her pop gems in a folk, acoustic setting may not be new territory for Lights but it is certainly something the pint-sized singer-songwriter is extremely successful at, and with each song transforming so radically in the process, the songs, which were once upbeat, sparkly pop numbers are delivered to fans following a stripped back, flowing, guitar drenched metamorphosis.

Only a carefully chosen few tracks from Little Machines have been selected to front this latest release. Up We Go opens the track-listing, as it did for Little Machines, and does a complimenting job at introducing listeners to the musicians latest dive into acoustic waters. Gone is the punchy, electronic rhythm and quirky vocal that was heard on the original recording and in its place is a building, atmospheric instrumentation and a gently strum acoustic guitar that doesn’t overwhelm but instead welcomes and guides Light’s crisp, emotive vocals which take us through several minutes of laid-back, slightly syrupy folk.

Little Machines is represented well on this new collection with Same Sea being the first to dip its toes into the orchestral pool; cello’s playfully providing a soothing backbone to the re-imagined third album notable while Don’t Go Home Without Me and closing number, Muscle Memory takes our hand and takes us on a journey through some of the richest string-section numbers on the record.

While the record is an acoustic nod to the musicians latest studio release, never-before-heard pennings find a nesting spot on Midnight Machines in the form of the beautifully guitar strum Head Cold and Follow You Down; two numbers that showcase the musicians effortless ability at firsthand country/folk songwriting, but it is the Canadian musician’s reinterpretation of Meteorites, one of the standout numbers from Little Machines, that provides fans and new listeners with the records masterpiece; the swaying melody and the musicians whispery vocals have been dressed in an exquisite orchestral instrumentation; persuading us to singalong to the sombre choir-like climax as it rings with a subtle country twang. The song has a natural progression to it; a gentle opening acoustic guitar strum transcends through the tracks few chorus nods and throughout, develops a beautifully arranged folk vein before ending as a sweeping big ballad, string-driven and cinematic heart-warmer.

Her work to date has been fairly flawless in her usual electro-pop comfort zones however, Midnight Machines marks a new level of skill and craft in the Lights repertoire and one that will help the songstress push her many talents into a new area of music and tap into an additional fan-base. Pristine, precise and perfectly executed re-imaginations that encompass everything about the Canadians seemingly limitless songwriting, instrumental and vocal talents! Midnight Machines has it all….and then some.