It always sounds weird to say you’re “proud” of someone of your generation. It sort of feels like a compliment left to the use of parents and elders. Sometimes though, when you have followed an artist after several years of being a music critic, there are certain ones that I just can’t help, but feel this way about. Lemonade co-owner, Aaron Mannari, and I always refer to Lights’s Siberia as our benchmark album. It came out at the start of Lemonade’s second year of operation and was one of the first releases that we both seemed to love equally. To this day, it is an album that we agree is one of our favorites to go back to.
Since 2011, Lights has released an acoustic version of Siberia, another full-length, Little Machines, and a collection of acoustic songs from Little Machines, titled Midnight Machines. Somewhere in there she married Blessed The Fall’s Beau Bokan and they had a child, Rocket Wild Bokan. Now you’d think that would make Lights slow down a little, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. At the beginning of 2017, Lights started to tease us with previews of a comic book project she was working on, Skin & Earth, we would later find out that an album by the same name was also on its way in the early fall.
Now here in early October, we’re three issues into the comic book series that she both writes and does artwork for and the album has finally made its way to our eardrums as well. Whether you’ve read the comic or not is irrelevant – although I highly suggest it – the album is inspired by the comic (or perhaps the other way around), but it does just fine as a separate entity. Much like Halsey’s release earlier this summer, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, Skin & Earth starts off by raising your eye brows with a distorted vocal begging the question, “Will yet another artist rob us of their naturally amazing voice to follow a trend?” Thankfully, it is only used as a creative intro before the voice we know and love jumps in to begin “Skydiving”.
As the album moves along it starts to really pick up steam with one of Lights‘s more rocking tracks “Savage” (featuring Josh Dun of Twenty-One Pilots on the drums). I remember being blown away by what seemed like a new level of vocal prowess from the Canadian songstress on the aforementioned Midnight Machines. Little did I know, she was only scratching the surface. Her normally sweet and sugary sounds are momentarily replaced by a complete and utter siren wailing, “What do you do when a man don’t love you?/He takes the sun from the sky above you./How do you fix the damage?/How do you break the habit?/I never knew you could be so savage”.
From there listeners are treated to a barrage of new sounds from Lights that continue to surprise and delight us including the soulful “New Fears”, the bouncy “Kicks” and the anthemic, “Giants”. Josh Dun accompanies her once again for the final track of the album, the beautiful and heartbreaking “Almost Had Me”.
I have been a fan of Lights ever since she was a young artist “tickling a gnarly synth” (as she put it) on her debut, The Listening. That said, even I didn’t know she was capable of what she’s turned into. Unlike other artists who struggle to find the magic they had with their debuts, Lights just gets stronger and stronger with every release and is in my opinion one of the most talented artists around right now. I’m not sure this music critic could be any more proud of an artist than I am of her. Simply magnificent.
The brand new album, Skin & Earth by Lights, is now available on iTunes. And check out the music video for her single, “Giants”, below!
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine