WAR 04 – Lights THE LISTENING Album Review

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In this week’s album review, I’m going over The Listening, the debut full-length album by Lights.

Lights has often been considered to be the female equivilent to Owl City, and when comparing their music, I see the similarities: the use of auto-tune, the ethereal vocals, playing in the synthpop genre of music, the combination of synths and real instruments like guitars, etc.

However, there is a major difference between them: Lights’ lyrical content seems much more focused than Owl City’s tendancy to be all over the place lyrically speaking. It’s definitely a fun ride for me when listening to Owl City, but some listeners might be turned off by the randomness of it.

For a good dose of synthpop bubbliness, let’s give The Listening a listen:

Personal Backstory

I first heard of Lights earlier in 2009 when Owl City sent out a Tweet complimenting Lights about The Listening. Since I love Owl City, I gave Lights a quick listen.

I can’t remember exactly which song I listened to first, but it was most likely February Air, a very Owl City-esque song. I loved it, but I forgot about Lights until recently when the music video for her single Ice came out.

I found out that Lights actually had her name legally changed from Valerie to Lights a couple of years ago, which I found kind of interesting.

The Track Breakdown

The first track, Saviour, is an odd way to start off the record, but the chorus is good.

The next song, Drive My Soul, is a nice trippy little number that really shows off the similarities Lights has with Owl City.

River is a heavy synth track that gives off a Depeche Mode vibe.

Up next is The Listening, which is the title track of the album and reminds me a lot of T.A.T.U..

After that, it’s Ice, a short Kelly Clarkson-meets-Nine Inch Nails song that melts together pop vocals with a lighter version of the synths from Pretty Hate Machine, which happens to be my favorite NIN album.

Pretend is another dreamy song that really reminds me of Owl City.

The seventh track off this album, The Last Thing On Your Mind, is a nice sing-along song.

Second Go has an uplifting feeling about it that makes it one of my favorite tracks on this album!

February Air, one of the most talked-about songs on this album, really reminds me of the chick-rock movement in the 90s.

Track 10 is Face Up, another soaring Owl City-esque track that’s also very singleworthy.

The next track, Lions!, is my all-time favorite track on this album that gives off a heavy U2 vibe.

After that is Quiet, a tune once again reminiscent of Owl City and 90s pop.

The final track on The Listening is Pretend (Reprise), which is a piano-driven version of the earlier song Pretend.

The Goodies, The Baddies & The Uglies

After listening to The Listening, it’s clear that Lights is really into Owl City as their music is very similar, which has a double-edged effect.

I really like Owl City’s music so it was easy to get into Lights’ music. On the other hand, because I really like Owl City’s wild writing style, I found some of Lights’ song to be boring and too straightforward. This is just my personal preferance, as I’m sure other people might not mind such straightforward songs.

Another gripe that I have with Lights is that, although there are some really nicely done songs, none of them really hit me hard like Owl City’s songs, which might explain why this review is so brief compared to my other reviews. Lights is still a fairly new artist so I’m sure that her songwriting will only improve with time and experience.

The Verdict

Despite the frequent comparisons to Owl City and kinda bland songwriting, Lights’ The Listening is off to a good start with some interesting bits here and there that make me look forward to her next album!

6 Tracks To Give a Clicky-Click

– River

– Pretend

– Second Go

– February Air

– Face Up

– Lions!

– Quiet

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