In April, multi-talented alternative pop artist Lights teased fans on her social media about a new era, following the release of Little Machines three years ago. Her hair now a brightly-coloured hue of red, she unveiled not only a new album, but a comic to accompany her new music. Fast forward to September, Lights’ new album, Skin&Earth, is finally here.
The comic, written and drawn by Lights herself, follows a young woman living in a post-apocalyptic world, where she faces romance, cults, gods, mortals, and learns about a twisted fantasy beyond everything she knows. Her songs’ lyrics are interwoven throughout the comic and follow the story closely—but the album can also stand on its own as a solid electro-pop dreamscape that is Lights’ best work since Siberia.
Many aspects of the flat, bland, overly repeated synth beats that Little Machines left, are gone, and listeners are instead graced with sweeping choruses, surprisingly rock n’ roll hooks, and the charming and dreamy lyricism that many fans fell in love with in the first place.
The single “Sky Diving” is a silky-smooth synth-pop track that starts the album off on a carefree and light note. The sweeping chorus gives off the feeling of free falling through the sky as listeners are swept into the world of Skin&Earth the way Lights envisions it.
But while there are many shining tracks here, there are a few that are forgettable. “Until the Light” is a flat bore of repetitive electro beats, while “Interlude,” despite a smooth fade out from the upbeat “Moonshine,” seems out of place and slows the pacing down.
Out of all the standout songs, “Savage” is a sound that fans have never heard from Lights before. It starts with a jolted and heavy electric guitar riff, which is very different from her usual synth-pop laden songs. It builds up to a sensational chorus where the singer delivers incredibly powerful and prominent vocals. The single stands out the most on this album and showcases Lights’ vocal talent, as well as her ability to experiment beyond what she’s created before.
“Kicks” is a fun, bubblegum pop tune about the carefreeness of going on child-like adventures. “Giants” is a stellar overarching single that perfectly encompasses the feeling of Skin&Earth, with an explosively hooky chorus akin to “Banners” from Siberia.
Whether you choose to read the Skin&Earth comics, or just listen to the album, the music stands on its own without relying on its visual and conceptual aspects to drive it. Lights exhibits that she is still that multi-talented artist fans fell in love with on The Listening and Siberia, while also bringing her well-known artistic skills and love of comics into play with her music.
“We Were Here”
(Feature Image: Warner Bros. Records)