One of Canada’s homegrown gems, Lights is back with her sophomore full-length, Siberia. Having won Best New Artist in 2009 at the Juno Awards, expectations were high for her first full-length, The Listening. The album was catchy and yielded some hit singles, but was ultimately a bit safe. Releasing two years later, Siberia finds Lights coming into her own as a singer, songwriter, and musician. There are some immediate dubstep influences apparent here, but it doesn’t overshadow the music and helps display her music’s development into something raw and invigorating.
The album kicks off with the title track, a pulsating song that is sure to incite a few sing-alongs at future concerts. The bridge dials things back and allows the song to breathe for a bit before ending with a memorable outro. After a great start to the album, “Where The Fence Is Low” follows, which allows Lights’ voice to take the reins and shine. First single “Toes” deserves to be a smash hit, with a killer chorus that is sure to ingrain itself in your mind, “Oh, you capture my attention / Carefully listening, don’t wanna miss a thing / Keeping my eyes on you / Got me on my toes.” The production provided by Holy Fuck is spot-on and leaves a lasting impression that is sure to bring you back for repeat listens.
“Banner”, one of Siberia’s strongest tracks, features a simple beat that is reinforced by strong vocals and a memorable chorus. The resulting product is nothing short of spectacular. “Everybody Breaks a Glass” acted as a promotional single for Siberia, which is fitting, as it is the first track that appears to be a significant departure from her previous work and representative of the progression she has made as a musician. The dirty (for lack of a better word) beats courtesy of Holy Fuck contrast well with Lights’ voice, with her vocals managing to sound delicate yet radiant during the chorus. Canadian rapper Shad contributes a few verses to the song, which is a welcome addition. The ethereal “Heavy Rope” is a fantastic vocal display and manages to work despite being a bit slow-paced. As Lights sings, “Come bail me out of this God forsaken precipice,” it’s hard not to smile, creating an interesting contrast with the lyrical content.
The disjointed, albeit catchy, “Timing Is Everything” precedes “Peace Sign”, which will no doubt be a fan favourite, with a memorable melody that is hard to resist. “Cactus in the Valley” features a sparse arrangement that suits it perfectly. The song is, fittingly, offered in acoustic form as a bonus track on Siberia’s deluxe edition. “Suspension” is a fairly standard affair, but is anchored by an absolutely memorable chorus. As is starting to become obvious, the choruses are huge on this album, and they show Lights’ growth as a songwriter. Her improved vocals are also worth mentioning. Her vocals have always been strong, but throughout Siberia her voice acts as the centerpiece that holds the album together cohesively.
Shad reappears on the dynamic “Flux and Flow”, though his contribution on this track is fairly small. This doesn’t make the track any less enjoyable, emerging as a standout on the album. As one of the best musicians Canada currently has to offer, Shad’s versatility is on clear display here and he proves his worth. The track combines with the excellent “Fourth Dimension” to create an unbeatable one-two punch as the album begins to draw to a close.
For me, the weakest part of Siberia is the closing, as it feels remarkably out of place amongst the mostly cohesive set of songs that comprise the rest of the album. “And Counting…” feels tepid throughout, while “Day One” can only be described as jarring. It is a bizarre ending to what can be described as a fairly mainstream pop album, a nine minute instrumental track that starts off fairly passively and gets into a pretty repetitious groove. The track was the result of the first jam session that Lights had with Holy Fuck, which in some ways helps give the album some closure. At the same time, while the song is not bad per se, it does feel a tad unnecessary.
At the end of the day, Lights has released a worthy follow-up to 2009’s The Listening. While not as immediately gratifying as her previous release, Siberia is an album that shows Lights’ growth as an artist and as a songwriter. It may not be perfect, but fans of pop music will no doubt find something to love here.
- Where The Fence Is Low
- Everybody Breaks A Glass
- Heavy Rope
- Timing Is Everything
- Peace Sign
- Cactus In The Valley
- Flux and Flow
- Fourth Dimension
- And Counting…
- Day One
Siberia, Toes, Banner, Peace Sign, Flux and Flow, Fourth Dimension