LIGHTS – Siberia

October 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Posted in LIGHTS | 2 Comments
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  1. Siberia
  2. Where The Fence Is Low
  3. Toes
  4. Banner
  5. Everybody Breaks A Glass
  6. Heavy Rope
  7. Timing Is Everything
  8. Peace Sign
  9. Cactus In The Valley
  10. Suspension
  11. Flux and Flow
  12. Fourth Dimension
  13. And Counting…
  14. Day One
  15. Frame and Focus
  16. Cactus In The Valley (Acoustic Version)

Siberia is LIGHTS’ sophomore album and it takes her in a new direction. Replacing the childish nature of The Listening is a much darker, heavier and grittier sound. Her vocals are still as sparkling as ever but there’s less of a childish tinge to them. She sounds confident, strong and improved. LIGHTS has matured in the last two years and it’s apparent in both her voice and music. Siberia is a lot more polished and the dubstep influences make for edgier and catchier hooks. The album is so audacious that her American label didn’t understand her new direction. They wanted her to resemble other popular mainstream acts but she fought for her artistic integrity and I’m happy that she did because Siberia is a phenomenal record.

Starting things off is the icey Siberia and LIGHTS’ new sound is immediately displayed as the heavy drum machine and synths kicks in. There are still some traces of her debut, like the bright piano and vocalization.  There’s a fuzzy sound that overshadows the melody and it’s a bit weird but strangely enough it works. It is drenched in a dreamy air that is carried through the entire track and it’s incredible. Her vocals are much better, they’re still sweet but you can really hear a difference. The piano melody in the chorus is so amazing, cool and catchy. I love the way her voice flows and bounces to the beat, “I would sail across the east sea/just to see you on the far side/where the wind is cold and angry/there you’ll be to take me inside.” In addition, the way she sings “Siberia” for some reason is so cute and addicting. I can’t get enough of it. During the bridge, the mood disperses into a serene ambience where LIGHTS sings in whispering and haunting vocals. She gets a thumbs up for mentioning Canada and the song ends with a pounding drum sequence. First song in and it’s already better than some of the songs off her debut. Where The Fence Is Low begins with a low synth line that’s mysterious and enchanting. Her voice is bolder and she sings with more intensity as it progresses. There are heartbeat drums and clapping beats as it nears the chorus where it then explodes into a synth craze. The dash of dubstep is heavy and her vocals have a longing tone, “I’m off on my rope here/I’m off on my own here/and I find my hope here/I find my own here.” The second verse features more intricate drum work and in the middle eight she goes into delicious vocalizing. The aggressiveness that this track embodies is fantastic and the production is so gritty. I really love the percussion because it goes through many changes and makes the song even catchier.

Toes is reminiscent of her debut days due to the otherworldly synths and her delightful voice, “if you are a cliffhanger ending/I’m the one that doesn’t know anything.” It doesn’t take long for new elements to take over, like the slick drum beats and dirty synthesizers. The track gives off the impression of a mid-tempo during the verses and I wasn’t expecting the chorus to be so upbeat. There’s a bit of a dance beat and a romantic underpinning. Her vocals are vivid and it’s catchier than anything on The Listening. It’s pure pop and it’s got that magical feel that only she can produce, “oh, you capture my attention/carefully listening/don’t wanna miss a thing/keeping my eyes on you/got me on my toes.” This tune really showcases the polish her production has received. It’s radio-friendly but it’s experimental and still LIGHTS. I didn’t know what to expect with Banner but when the computer-like synths invaded I knew I was going to love it. Her light voice contrasts nicely with the killer drum beats and the lyrics are lovely, “nobody mapped oblivion/so I go growing roses in the disarray.” The pre-chorus finds her using her airy tone and it then bursts into her most uplifting hook. The synths are crazy, her voice is powerful and it all results in an irresistible feel-good dubstep anthem, “so lift it up like a banner/hold it up over me/if this war is never ending/I’ll take this love down with me/like a banner.” I really like the soft feel of the bridge because it acts as an epic lead up to the final chorus and her backing vocals are great as well. The strength put into this is overwhelming that you’ll want to shout along to the chorus.

Everybody Breaks A Glass was the first song to be released and it’s one of the more experimental songs. The verses are where the energy lies due to the dubstep influence and she performs with shouting vocals, “there are reasons you keep your hands tied/there’s certain things you shouldn’t have tried/so if you’ve got it tell me something/you better go from the beginning.” The synths and bass are so heavy that the fuzzy sound from the first track makes a return. “Everybody skips a beat/we let the chances pass/the few we held so fast/everybody breaks a glass,” she sings in a delicate tone as the song does a 180 in the chorus and floats into a twinkling piano melody. The drastic change in sound between the verse and chorus make it conceptually interesting and I like how the lyrics to the chorus always change. The bridge is a barrage of drums as the featured rapper, Shad, delivers a slick rap that suits the song and takes it that little extra mile. Things settle down for Heavy Rope and it didn’t win me over right away but now I’m enjoying its dream-like aura. Opening with hard percussion and clapping beats, it drifts into a fragile but consuming synth line. Her vocal delivery is gorgeous. The timid and raw state of her voice tingles your senses as it flows together with the peaceful melody. The chorus plays on these elements and enhances them into a hook that will stick to you despite its simplicity, “toss me a heavy rope/it’s a slip or a slope/come bail me out of this God forsaken precipice.” This is such a gorgeous track and the synths create an atmosphere that you can sink right in to.

Timing Is Everything is another superb offering with catchy synths and fun vocals. The synths come back hard and LIGHTS’ lyrics are as clever as always, “you were walking in the sunset again without a hassle/in the interim, a princess was in another castle.” The chorus grabbed my attention quickly with its pounding beats and high vocals. Her voice adds to the infectiousness of the hook and I really love the lyrics, “there I was, none the wiser/both of us, different trajectories/who’d have thought we’d be right here in this spot/timing is everything.” The echoing distorted vocals are a nice touch and I like how the energy never dies down. Peace Sign is a melodic delicacy that is so inspiring and addicting. The synth line is beyond words. It’s so dazzling and the bass underlining it gives it just the right amount of heaviness. The bass takes over for the verses which are quite dark, her voice is the only source of radiance, and the track’s true magnificence is unveiled in the chorus. The addicting synths burst onto the scene for one of the prettiest choruses on the album and her vocals are so damn adorable, “where it’s all a blur, you are the hard line/in the disorder, you are the peace sign.” It’s hopeful, uplifting and so much fun. The bridge fades into a frail marching beat and piano where her voice is manipulated with some filters. I can’t get enough of this track, it’s a must hear.

I never meant to wither/I wanted to be tall/like a fool left the river/and watched my branches fall,” she whispers in the stunning ballad Cactus In The Valley, taking the album to a quiet place. A sweeping piano leads the composition with tragic synths backing it up and LIGHTS’ dangerously fragile voice wraps it all together in a gloomy air, “and wipe the mark of sadness from my face/show me that your love will never change/if my yesterday is a disgrace/tell me that you still recall my name.” I love the emotional pull of this song and it’s a very moving piece, more so than the ballad from her debut. The next two tracks are the best and my all time favourite songs from her. First off is Suspension and it’s the perfect mix of lush vocals and heavenly instrumentation. The intro is a blend of magical and atmospheric synths that are joined by a hard drumline. The thing I love about this track is the constant build-up as it progresses. Eventually dubstep beats enter and the way her vocals flow with the quicker melody is intoxicating. The chorus takes it to a whole new level with an amazing synth and bass beat laced with spacial twinkling and airy vocals, “I’m a ship sailing/and the seas are rough/I’m a satellite/in the space above/when I’m holding here/or I’m hanging up/I’m in suspension/you’re not close enough.” It’s so catchy, amazing and I can’t get it out of my head. The repetitive post-chorus drills it into your head even more. The bridge dips into a super hot dubstep breakdown with some nice backing vocals. The song is flawless and I’m sure many fans will love it.

The previous track is so good that I didn’t think anything would top it but then Flux and Flow came along and proved me wrong. The one-two punch of the percussion provides a dark feel while her vocals and the guitar add in a light tone. For the chorus, the melody shifts into a sensational electronic ambience and LIGHTS owns with her airy, angelic vocals, “highs and lows/there are pits and lands/on the ground that you stand.” The second half of the chorus evokes different elements as the darker side takes over with gritty synths and shouting vocals, “so, flux and flow/flux and flow.” Shad makes a return and gives another slick rap that finds a home in the bridge. The concluding chorus is spectacular as it blends the two sections together making a more melodic experience. This is one of her most hardcore songs and the energy and intensity coming out of it is great. Fourth Dimension is the sexiest tune because it’s just very pleasing to the ears. There’s still the fuzzy dubtep and hard percussion but they have a feel-good quality. The chorus is sublime as it introduces futuristic elements and her voice takes on a passionate and exciting tone as she exclaims, “here’s to such an old invention/dear, we touched the fourth dimension/cheers to such an old invention/here’s an honorable mention.” The dubstep breakdown in the bridge is fire and the section following it is so unexpected because it just falls into an ethereal softness. “I’m on moons and clouds/where worlds wrap around,” she whispers in a luscious deep register and it is intertwined with the chorus, making it even more magical.

And Counting… is the most haunting synth ballad I’ve heard and it’s breathtaking. The synths are gorgeous yet they carry such a somber air and she’s never sounded so tender, “forty days and counting/I’m going to sleep/when I wake up there will be/thirty nine more days left.” The lyrical content is very simple and repetitive but it’s lovely. Throughout the track more beats are added such as light percussion and high synths. Her vocalizing aids the haunting vibe, especially in the outro, and she sounds so amazing. Day One is the longest track on the album, about nine minutes, and it’s so bizarre. It’s an instrumental piece that combines all of the album’s influences into one piece. While it’s not my favourite, there’s something strange about it that draws me to it. It’s a bit like random noise; however, it’s calming even though it has a slightly disturbing feel to it. This is a strange track with a strange charm to it. The first of the two bonus tracks, Frame and Focus, is a blend of quirky drum beats and synth waves. There’s a slight hollow-like tone to her voice in the verses and the rhyming lyrics are pretty cute, “all those sum ups/long days, short cuts/love notes, strings stuck/far aways, close ups.” In the chorus, there’s a stronger focus on the synths which give it a nice upbeat feel, “we’re just a mess of moments/that’s adding up to where we are/and you’re the frame and focus/that’s making sense of it so far.” Even though the beats are on the heavy side, this song actually has an uplifting and pleasant vibe. It’s a lot lighter than it seems. Cactus In The Valley (Acoustic Version) does away with the melancholic synths and opts for a breezy acoustic setting. I like the fact that she gave it a different flavour from the original because it helps it avoid feeling like a repeat. I still prefer the first version because it’s sadder and it suits the lyrics better. The acoustics make it just a little too happy. Still, it’s always a treat to hear her without all the busy beats.

Conclusion: Siberia is louder, more experimental and more creative than anything LIGHTS accomplished on The Listening. I still consider her debut to be amazing but her sophomore release takes her one step further. The glitchy dubstep elements make for some incredibly interesting productions and it’s great that LIGHTS doesn’t play it safe. The progression she’s made in the last few years is astounding. LIGHTS still sprinkles a little bit of her celestial magic on some of the tracks so she hasn’t completely done away with her old sound. It’s just been updated. Furthermore, there’s more diversity on this album. There are more ballads, more up-tempos and a nice blend of mid-tempos. If The Listening is her fantasy of childhood then Siberia is the realization of adulthood and her embrace of it.

Recommended Tracks: Flux and Flow, Suspension, Banner, Peace Sign, Fourth Dimension, Timing Is Everything, And Counting… and Siberia

Rating

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  1. In truth, I think ‘Siberia’ has really made me fall in love with LIGHTS.
    I adore how she’s gotten so much edgier with her sophomore album. The heavier synths aren’t usually my thing, but it LIGHTS works with them so well, I can’t help falling for them. In truth, the first half of the album was my favourite but And Counting… was absolutely amazing and really captured my attention.
    I could keep gushing about this fantastic album, but I should really get off and study for my yearly exams.

    • Same! I like her first album but Siberia has made me a much bigger fan. Her voice goes so well with the heavy synths. I’m going to be listening to the album for a very long time :p. Good luck on your exams.


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