Sweetbox – After The Lights

October 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Sweetbox | 2 Comments
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  1. This Christmas
  2. After The Lights
  3. Killing Me DJ
  4. Piano In The Dark
  5. More Than Love
  6. Waterfall
  7. God On Video
  8. Time Of My Life
  9. Pretty In Pink
  10. Girl From Tokyo
  11. O Come All Ye Faithful
  12. Silent Night
  13. Merry X-Mas

After The Lights is Sweetbox’s Christmas themed album which actually isn’t all that Christmassy. There are a few Christmas tunes but there are also some very dark songs on this album. This is Jade and Geo’s first album that doesn’t have any classical sampling and each song has an original composition. The writing style also differs for some of the songs because Jade focuses on telling narratives in the 3rd person rather than the 1st person perspective that she usually writes in.

Starting the album is This Christmas which is a cute and, you guessed it, cheery Christmas song. The song is bursting with that magical holiday feel and it’s just adorable. The lyrics are easy to relate to “I won’t be victimized/by Christmas sales or 2-for-1 offers/won’t max out my credit card/and then convince myself that I deserve to” and the chorus is quite catchy. This is a great Christmas song and one of the one’s I can listen to anytime of the year. The rest of the album, except the last 3 songs, is devoid of any Christmas theme. After The Lights is one of Jade’s most beautiful and heart-wrenching ballads. It opens up with Jade’s soft vocals accompanied by gorgeous strings. The rest of the instruments come in during the chorus and Jade sings in a much stronger tone. The music takes on a dramatic feel for the bridge and Jade’s ad-libbing during it is phenomenal. One of the aspects I love about the song is how tragic it is. The lyrics are incredible and the verse after the bridge makes me shiver every time I listen to it, “but when he sees her ring/his words escape/and he doesn’t say he still tastes her kiss/and she’s too scared to say/ that her child’s eyes are his.” This song is absolutely breathtaking and one of the album’s best. Killing Me DJ, which features Toby, has a very pop sound to it despite being a break-up song, “I’m gonna burn your letters in the morning/put all our fading pictures in a box.” I find Toby’s vocals too deep and they don’t mix well with Jade’s vocals. He isn’t that bad that he ruins the song completely but the demo version without him sounded much better. The chorus is catchy even though it’s slightly repetitive. I adore the bridge, “yeah eh yeah yeah eh yeah oh/if I could turn back time/I would do it again,” it’s definitely the most addicting part of the song.

Piano In The Dark, is exactly what the title implies. It’s very dark with a haunting and dramatic piano melody. Jade’s vocal delivery is strong and the repetition of “daddy always said” gives it an ominous feel. The music changes completely after the first verse and it becomes upbeat and groovy. It’s an interesting shift and Jade sings in a soulful voice. I really like the contrast of the dark and upbeat sound, it makes the song unique. The final chorus is amazing. She sings the end with so much power and her ad-libbing is fantastic. More Than Love is another great ballad and it has a few surprises. The song constantly crescendos as it go on. At first there’s just a piano with Jade’s soft vocals then after the first chorus an acoustic guitar and chimes are added and Jade’s vocals become louder. The song seems as if it’s going to be sweet but as it goes on it starts sounding angst and vengeful. When the song enters the bridge her vocals become extremely bitter, “and you’re still not happy/after all that I’ve done/all I’ve become is never good enough for you.” I like the backing vocals in the final chorus because it resembles a choir and it gives the end a nice feel. My favourite song on the album and one of my favourite Sweetbox songs in general is Waterfall. I love the dark atmosphere and the stalker vibe that Jade portrays. It’s a creepy mid-tempo and the arrangement and lyrics are so mesmerizing. Her vocal performance is eerie, perfectly matches the arrangement, and the lyrics are as equally sinister, “sitting in my car watching you through window panes/they say its sick/but true lovers know no shame.” The chorus is repetitive but I love it to death, “you belong to me/you will belong to me.” When Jade talks during the bridge it gives me goose bumps because of how crazy she sounds, “I told you I’d be watching you/in everything that you do/but don’t worry now ‘cause I’ll take care of you.” This song isn’t that popular but I can’t get enough of it.

God On Video is much lighter than the last few songs. It’s a spiritual mid-tempo about faith and how “in order to believe/we need to see it on TV or video.” I really like the message of this song and how the arrangement is calm during the verses but picks up tempo for the chorus. The verses are sung softly with Jade repeating “I believe” for each sentence while she belts during the chorus. It’s a good song but if I had to pick this would be one of my least favourite songs on the album. Time Of My Life is a wonderful uplifting song. The lyrics are bittersweet but I love the hopeful arrangement. The verses are sung very softly, it’s almost like she’s whispering. The electronic melody is really sweet especially when it transitions to the chorus. Jade’s singing in the chorus is great and the way she holds some of the notes is lovely. The male backing vocals shouting “whoa” in the bridge add a choir element and I love the optimistic lyrics, “our memories fade but love won’t die/’cause you’re the light left in these eyes/and one day I’ll come home to you.” The next track, Pretty In Pink, has an 80s prom sound to it. I can’t help but think of cliché things when I listen to this. A sparkly and girly vibe dominates the arrangement which is laid-back and it has a slow dance vibe to it. Even the lyrics have references to 80s pop culture with Jade mentioning Bon Jovi, “but you know she doesn’t care/she’s living on a prayer.” It’s a decent tune with a cute melody.

I haven’t heard many songs that deal with the subject matter that Girl From Tokyo does so it’s quite refreshing. This song deals with a girl who gets an STD, “a three letter raven in his touch/funny how it’d give a stranger so much trust.” I had no idea this was what the song was about so I was surprised when I found out. It’s one of the albums more upbeat songs and it begins with dramatic strings that leads into a guitar. The melody remains constant except for the bridge where it slows down and Jade speaks, repeating one of the verses. The album returns to the Christmas theme for the last three tracks which are Christmas covers. O Come All Ye Faithful sounds really nice and Jade vocals are very soulful. The arrangement is pleasant and the strings and electronic beat make it pretty interesting. Jade’s version of Silent Night is an acoustic rendition and Jade performs in a soft and vulnerable voice. It’s very short, less than two minutes, so it goes by quickly and it’s over before you know it. The next song is a live recording of Merry X-Mas. The beginning is cute because they have the start the song over a couple of times since Jade won’t stop laughing. When she does start singing she uses her soft voice and does a great job on the track. There are some moments where she belts out but overall this is a very consistent song.

The Korean version of the album replaces the three Christmas songs with two new songs (the Korean special edition contains all the songs in a 2 disc set). Don’t Wanna Kill You is such an amazing song, it’s twisted and cruel. This is as dark as the album gets and Jade nails her delivery. The guitar in the verses is calm but when the strings come in that’s when the song takes on its dark vibe. I love how after every line Jade sings in the verse she speaks in the background making the song much creepier, “when she’s kissing you can’t she taste me? (those were my lips)/doesn’t my scent linger there? (I know it does)/a minute ago, you still loved me (did you tell her that?).” Jade sounds completely sadistic and deranged in the chorus especially during the final one. This is another one of the albums best tracks and it’s just insane how dark it is. “I don’t wanna kill you/just hurt you a little /I don’t wanna kill you/can I just hear you cry?” Crown Of Thorns is also a dark song and it has a lot of religious references. A dramatic piano opens the song with Jade screaming in the background. During the first verse Jade is just accompanied by a piano and when the chorus starts a drum beat is added. The song really comes to life in the second verse as more instruments are added and Jade begins singing more aggressively. I love the biblical references in the lyrics especially in the chorus, “let them praise you like messiah/while I wore your crown of thorns,” and second verse, “now you wanna cast me aside/well hey it’s an eye for an eye/and I won’t be crucified.” Jade becomes very aggressive during the bridge, “no more quiet woman behind her man/waiting to correct another one of his mistakes/an anonymous Goddess behind her god/parting the waters of the world before it gets too late,” and the music starts picking up speed while Jade belts out. These two tracks are so amazing they should have been featured on all editions of the album.

Conclusion: After The Lights is another solid release by Sweetbox. The album is a nice departure from their usual style and it’s great to see them try something new. Even though the album doesn’t deal with death or suicide I feel that it’s much darker than Adagio. The songs on here are tragic and even the ones that seem bright still have depressing lyrics. Geo is seriously a fantastic producer. The melodies on this album are stunning and there are a number of interesting arrangements. Jade’s vocal delivery, especially in the dark songs, is superb and she actually sounds sick and twisted. If you love Sweetbox’s classical work don’t shy away from After The Lights because it’s just as strong.

Recommended Tracks: Waterfall, Don’t Wanna Kill You, Crown Of Thorns, After The Lights, More Than Love, Time Of My Life and Piano In The Dark

Rating

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2 Comments »

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  1. It’s been a while since you reviewed huh?

    • I try to get a review up every week. School has been keeping me busy :(.


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