By Hurmut Humayun, October 3 2017 —
Lights is an established force in alt-pop music circles. Moving away from her niche alt-pop sound, Skin&Earth is Lights’ attempt to reach a more mainstream audience. Though it’s her most commercially friendly work, the album remains true to her synth-pop origins.
Each of the album’s tracks fit perfectly into a journey of life’s ups and downs. While, for example, Beyoncé’s Lemonade was released alongside an hour-long film, Skin&Earth’s crossover media accompaniment comes in the form of a six-issue comic book series created and illustrated by Lights herself.
Skin&Earth effortlessly leaps the first hurdle faced by most concept albums — the intro track. “Intro” feels like a visit from the ghost of her past, as a high-pitched, synthesized voice sings unintelligible words leading directly into the first real track. “Skydiving” sounds the most like the Lights we heard on 2011’s Siberia and 2014’s Little Machines. Her vocals maintain the same mixture of airy and sweet and her songwriting and production have a new maturity.
“Savage” and “New Fears” stand out as personal favourites. These songs show Lights in an entirely new light. The songs are a total departure from the synth-driven tunes listeners have come to expect from the artist and are largely driven by strong guitar riffs and percussion.
“Interlude” and “Magnetic Field” mark an atmospheric change in the album. The simple production allow Lights’ vocals to take centre stage. “Magnetic Field” in particular showcases how much Lights has grown as an artist and the song may be her most mature work yet.
Nearing the end of the album, “Fight Club” is a straight banger. The track is the poppiest sound we’ve heard from Lights. The yell-singing chorus is bound to get people moving, making it the album’s strongest song. The fun, danceable beat would be a welcome addition to any playlist and Lights’ vocal talent is enough to encourage new listeners to become lifelong fans of the Toronto singer.
Skin & Earth was released on Sept. 22 on Universal Music Canada. It is available on all major streaming services and on CD and LP formats.