LIGHTS – ‘Skin & Earth’

By Eloise Bulmer

The latest album from synth-popper LIGHTS is a concept album. Running alongside the musician’s self-penned comic book it fleshes out the story found between those pages. That’s not to say you need to have read the comic to enjoy the album– ‘Skin & Earth’ tells a vivid story standing alone.

With an intro that’s nothing less than what’s to be expected from a LIGHTS album, the angel-like chorus of vocals is sharply interrupted by the glittering pop track ‘Skydiving’. It’s very current, sounding influenced by todays pop landscape whilst still containing LIGHTS’s trademark warbles and synth lines. The album remains sleek and trendy sounding with perfect pop production until ‘Savage’ knocks you sideways. Interrupting the gentle tropical bounce of ‘Until The Light’, the gritty guitar line is impulsive and turbulent, the chaotic drums intensifying the already moody atmosphere.

What’s apparent on ‘Skin & Earth’ is how melody writing seems to come so naturally to LIGHTS. Each lyric and sound is placed so particularly as to elicit a specific mood and feeling, nothing’s been left to chance. This is especially apparent on tracks like ‘New Fears’ and ‘Moonshine’ which are both glossy and precise without sacrificing any feeling. Going from brooding verses to an elated chorus happens time and time again on ‘Skin & Earth’. The only time this formula falters is on ‘Giants’, where the tempo change is a little clunky, but with the lyrical content to match these lows and highs it ensures the listener is truly in her world.

‘Morphine’ is the most reminiscent of past releases, building the track with breathy vocals and delicate melodies, barely moving forward and instead keeping to a lulling pace throughout. The low-key moments continue towards the end of the record, with ‘Magnetic Field’ being suitably ethereal for a LIGHTS’ song, ebbing and flowing over drum machines and a repetitive vocal melody that only makes it more hypnotising.

Showing off in her ability to trespass into other genres, the bassline in ‘Fight Club’ is suitable for clubs the world over yet doesn’t sound even slightly out of place on this indie synth-pop record. It’s a nice pick me up for the tail end of the album with a danceable beat that really indulges in being a fun pop track.

Always pushing forward with her music and refusing to let genres define her output, LIGHTS has managed to take her music further again with ‘Skin & Earth’. Melding together two separate passions of hers into a cohesive body of work is impressive, and the final result is something that has many layers to it so fans can dive as deep as they choose. With ‘Skin & Earth’ LIGHTS has created a space for escapists and dreamers to get lost in for as long as they need to.

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