LIGHTS is the unchallenged queen of synthpop. The Canadian songstress sits proudly upon her throne as she leads her genre, as she has been for nearly the last decade of her career. That being said, her sound hasn't gone unchanged in all this time, for better and for worse. LIGHTS takes a new approach in Skin&Earth, her newest record.
There's something much more sleek about the production on Skin&Earth that really separates it from LIGHTS' previous work. It's a much more cleanly produced album, grabbing from lowkey pop music. After the beautiful harmonies of the 'Intro' track, 'Skydiving' introduces the record with smooth synths and sweet, longing melodies. 'Until The Light' follows with even cleaner production, sounding like BloodPop had a hand on the track. Other songs like 'Morphine' and closing track 'Almost Had Me' keep things clean on the album, too.
It almost feels like something is missing from Skin&Earth, though. LIGHTS' music was also characterized by a rebellious and anthemic attack, every song having a punch or a message to them. It does show on tracks like the rock-infused 'Savage' with its big choruses (and admittedly disjointed verses) and anthemic single 'Giants,' but for a lot of the record it just doesn't feel like a LIGHTS album. 'Fight Club' is the furthest thing you would ever expect from her, completely shifting over to a poppy trend that just has no trace of her. There are even slower songs that find the right blend between this new approach and the old, like the emotional, atmospheric, and dark 'Magnetic Field' that tells a beautiful story of love and 'New Fears' with its brooding and assertive synths. 'We Were Here' channels that underdog vibe LIGHTS' music commonly has, as well. A lot of the record just feels uncharacteristic of her, and not properly blended into the new style.
LIGHTS takes a new approach in Skin&Earth, but it doesn't always work out. There's a divide between the songs that channel her old style to the ones that exist exclusively in her new style, leaving for a mixed album that hasn't quite fully assimilated into what it should be. It lacks character in parts but still has a sense of integrity (for the most part), and when it does something new it typical does it well. An uncertain step in terms of LIGHTS, but a pretty great record otherwise.
Favorite Tracks: We Were Here, Giants, Magnetic Field, Savage
Least Favorite Track: Fight Club
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy Skin&Earth on Apple Music: