REVIEW: Lights – Siberia


Artist: Lights
Album: Siberia
Genre: Synth-pop/Electropop
Label: Lights Music

Lights, aka Lights Valerie Poxleitner, is almost impossibly adorable. I don’t mean that to sound condescending, and I really hope it doesn’t, but she has in her exquisitely realised electro-synth-indie-pop perfected a kind of precocious girly sweetness that still retains universal appeal. Siberia is her second studio album, a work filled with warmth and atmosphere, which is easily accessible both for long time fans and newcomers to her material.

The album is crafted around consistently strong percussion, which gives each song a clear and solid base to work from. To this, she adds layers of graceful and imaginative synth, giving each track a delicate yet absorbing atmosphere and a real sense of magic and wonder. Her light and loving vocals add the final sheen, completing a pristine record that rarely fails to hit all the right notes.

“Siberia,” as the name implies, is all icy eloquence. The percussion provides a sturdy, thumping introduction, paving the way for lots of electronic instruments and some ghostly vocals. When she begins singing properly, her vocals are soft and earnest, with the same slightly detached air as the music to create a rather otherworldly, refined air. The heavily synthesized background seems almost fairytale-like, with a wishful and dreamy tone floating through everything. It’s pure escapism, and a very pretty distraction. “Where the Fence Is Low” isn’t quite as briskly paced as the first song, but still has a very vivid rhythm to it – it seems more longing and yet more grounded. Her vocals are more concentrated and there’s more conviction to them, and the sound overall is stronger and more intensive. “Toes,” the first single, is a poppier track than either of these and has something of a throwback sound to it. It has a very lush, romantic set-up and feels escapist but not aimless. Lights’ vocals lend the song a searching and urgent vibe, and for all that it’s less carefree than its predecessors, the consistent beat gives it plenty of dance credentials.

“Banner” is built around a fiery and engaging drum beat and a stunningly rousing chorus that you’d never see coming. The music builds to a huge, invigorating rush around this, with spiralling synth padding out the background and Lights’ own backing vocals adding a vivid lustre and depth. “Suspension” and “Peace Sign” are also forged in this colourful mould, replete with layers of electronic sound for a delightfully realised sonic palette. Both are charged and compelling and strike a fine balance between music and vocals. The music is never too forceful to drown out her singing, which itself manages to be both sensitive and vigorous, varying neatly to suit the tone and subject matter of each song.

The vox are particularly accomplished on some of the album’s slower numbers. “Heavy Rope” adopts a more minimal, slightly downcast sound and allows her pleading and earnest singing to tell the story. “Cactus In the Valley” is also quite soft and vulnerable. The instrumentation is measured, tentative, and pleading, creating a glassy symmetry paved with lots of tender emotion. “And Counting” is the second last song on the record and serves as something of a reflection. The singing is hesitant and the sound reserved, if not quite lifeless, seeming to hint at some huge well of feeling that’s been muted or scaled back for the purposes of the song.

The album has few dud notes, though the use of some last-minute rapping on “Everybody Break A Glass” and “Flux and Flow” doesn’t particularly endear. Her willingness to experiment is impressive, but the vocals themselves are too harsh and at odds to properly blend with her sound. “Fourth Dimension” is just a bit boring, and “Day One” an eight-minute meandering odyssey of random noises that seems to lack purpose altogether. Those aside however, all is well.

In conclusion thus, Siberia is a glowing triumph, a genuinely gorgeous collection of songs filled with light and loveliness. It’s rhythmic and catchy and should appeal to most if not all, even if this type of music isn’t usually your thing.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Disagree about Flux and Flow, its pretty haunting and her voice is very powerful in it. But I do agree about Everybody Breaks a Glass. Don’t care for that one much.