Though they've been around for awhile, and despite touring with some big names (Drake, La Roux, MGMT, etc.), they've remained relatively unknown. This year however, thanks to working on Chance's Coloring Book (they feature on "Summer Friends") and have Bon Iver guest on the lead single of their latest release, Farewell, Starlite, they've gained a little notoriety. I'm sure that for most, it was, "where have they been?" but for them, it probably felt more like, "finally."
Francis and the Lights, at their core, exudes classic 80's vibe, but it hasn't always had been that way. When I first heard 2008's A Modern Promise EP, I was unimpressed. They toyed with sounds, but never seemed to hit the mark. I went on to listen to their previous release, out of curiosity, 2007's Striking, and found it to be better. The clear step-back left me confused. The ideas were there, but it was extremely raw, feeling like a puzzle with all the pieces spread out. A few years later they dropped It'll Be Better, and everything came together, the potential of the group finally hitting me. The difference between this EP and the one before felt like night and day; using the positives they dealt out early on, they cleaned everything up and released a confident 80's pop record with contemporary twists.
After releasing their fourth EP in 2013 (Like A Dream), I was sure of two things: one, this group was extremely talented, and two, their goal was to avoid LP's entirely. Obviously with the release of Farewell, Starlite, that claim has been disproven (but why else would they wait almost a decade to put out a full length?! Tell me Francis!). This latest album (and DEBUT LP, praise Him) is easily their best work. It's actually cool to go back and listen to all of their releases in order; you can see exactly what styles and influences they decided to stick with, even using certain styles and methods that I didn't care for in their early work as stepping stones to sounds that I love on this release, sounds they wouldn't have touched on without the progression.
Farewell, Starlite feels very much like a product of the past that's built for the present. Band leader Francis Farewell Starlite fully embraces his Collins-esque qualities and uses it to his advantage, crafting 80's synth pop with contemporary ideas making for a slick, and often sobering listen. At 10 songs and a 32 minute run time, we've been gifted a beautiful and efficient record, which I'm convinced has been 10 years in the making. Francis has utilized all his talents, polishing off the pros, dismissing the cons, and approaching this record with elegance and maturity.