Canada’s greatest gift is at it again. Pop/electronic queen Lights has released her fifth album (and third acoustic release), Midnight Machines featuring acoustic renditions of tracks from her prior release, Little Machines, as well as some new material.
As you’d expect of an acoustic album, this album is very intimate, which, for Lights, is always great. But from acoustic versions of songs from what was one of her most active and energetic albums, it’s almost like you’re listening to completely new songs. Truth be told, Little Machines didn’t really click with me originally. It felt like Lights trying to fit some kind of status quo with how poppy it was. After revisiting the album after listening to this release, the true colors of it clicked with me. Midnight Machines reveal the purer emotions behind each track, giving their original version a much different and more powerful meaning, too.
The album begins with an intimate rendition of ‘Up We Go’, a very electrifying track in its original form, but very personal in its stripped down version. The plucked guitars and kick drum beating like a heart accentuate Lights’ recollective vocals. The message has a very personal “I’m here for you” vibe to it. The same theme is found in ‘Running With The Boys’, a song that’s energy that drove it is absent in this performance, but has that recollective sense to it that just feels so dreamy that it’s hard to fault it. A new song, ‘Follow You Down’, has a similar vibe to ‘Up We Go’, but with a more somber demeanor. The sing-a-long part is just so sweet and emotional, it’s chilling. ‘Meteorites’, a song that oozes pop dance vibes, becomes a song you could slow dance too, a beautiful choir in the bridge bringing the song to a brilliant end. ‘Don’t Go Home Without Me’ is definitely, for me, at least, the most heartbreaking track on the record. For no other reason than the emotion found in the disposition of Lights’ lyrics and the beautiful orchestra remind me of my girlfriend so very much. The buildup of the bridge nearly brought me to tears; this is a beautiful song. I love you, Halli. If you’re reading this. I probably look stupid, otherwise. The album’s closure track, ‘Muscle Memory’, is interesting in that I think it’s actually better than the original. The intimacy of the lyrics that were intended for the original, just feel so much stronger in the acoustic version. It’s like a whole different song. The only track on the album that brings it down in any way is ‘Head Cold’, which isn’t even inherently bad, but it feels like, to me, a better song could’ve made it’s way for a personal acoustic version.
The instrumentals of the album make it all the more powerful. The symphonies throughout the album are just beautiful, especially in ‘Same Sea’, where the blend of backing vocals and an orchestra are just fantastic. With the acoustic instrumentation and subtle orchestras, the album overall has a very open atmosphere. The acoustics and dynamics of the album are so crisp and open, it’s a very pleasant and soothing experience if you can look past the emotion the vocals will make you feel.
Lights always delivers with her acoustic material. The acoustic version of ‘Cactus In The Valley’ on the acoustic version of Siberia is one of my all-time favorite songs - her performances on acoustic albums ooze so much emotion and intimacy. It feels like a friend is talking to you. The personal flair doesn’t falter at all with Midnight Machines, and its colors bring the original songs to a whole new level. Listening to this album at midnight (or in the early morning - it can have the same feel then, too), as the title suggests is such a surreal experience. It feels like your emotions are so much more susceptible at those times, and this album knows that. It uses that to deliver the beautiful music it has, and helps you remember that you’re not alone. It’s relatable nature is what makes it so great. Midnight Machines is another fantastic release from Lights, and I just can’t wait for the next one.
Favorite Tracks: Don’t Go Home Without Me, Up We Go, Follow You Down, Meteorites, Muscle Memory
Least Favorite Track: Head Cold