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Album Review: Lights – Skin&Earth

3 min read
Photo: Matt Barnes/Warner

The career of Canadian songbird Lights has been a very pop glazed journey thus far. While her sophomore Siberia release dipped its toes into more acoustic waters than other releases from her repertoire, debut album The Listening and previous studio release Little Machines were dressed in glossy tones and contained more sparkly synths than you could shake a stick at. Sister EP’s allowed listeners to travel through some of the key tracks on the respective releases with new ears as the musician dished up alternative versions – often much more Americanized and folk-inspired – than their original mainstream radio craving counterparts. A couple of years on from the release of her last studio record, the talented and pint-sized Juno Award winner has returned with something familiar – yet tantalizingly different.

Skin&Earth is Lights’ 4th studio album and the collection has been released to coincide with a new multimedia venture for the singer – a visually stunning and self-illustrated comic book series going by the same title. Skin&Earth is a concept album of sorts and one that allows us to dive into a whole new artistic dimension of one of the brightest alt-pop acts in recent years.

The record sits within fairly familiar ground as the musicians previous material. There is safety in pop music but this is where Lights feels the most grounded and where her talents as songwriter and vocalist truly shine.

As a brief yet serene intro opens the new collection, first full-length track Skydiving ushers us into Skin&Earth. The tracks instrumentation takes a back seat here and allows Lights to dominate the numbers sweet melody before one of the records highlights, Until The Light propels Skin&Earth into semi-dance terrain; a Justin Bieber-esque structure carries some strange vocal effects, a subtle brimming synth and a summery electronic production.

Savage is one of the records prominent up-tempo notables with its twangy guitar-work and beefy chorus; allowing Lights to rip through the track like a true rock star while the musician channels her inner Taylor Swift for the punchy and swagger-led Kicks during the middle of the record.

In terms of its overall aesthetic, Skin&Earth contains a little less of a pop sparkle than the musicians previous records and instead carries a more matured and grittier sound that certainly suits the maturing artists latest concept album labor.

Magnetic Field pulls back the record from being overwhelmed with up-tempo tracks; flowing through the end of the record and offering up a cinematic ballad that Light’s shines on thanks to her pristine vocals and passionate delivery of the gorgeous addition to Skin&Earth while closing gem Almost Had Me ticks all the right boxes for a memorable pop track: anthemic, hook-heavy, vocally and instrumentally syrupy pop at its finest and the perfect number to wrap up our love affair with this fantastic new collection from one of pop music’s most talented songbirds.