LIGHTS - Midnight Machines (B)

Just as she did after 2011’s Siberia, LIGHTS has given us a stripped version of her latest record, 2014’s Little Machines. While this blurb is acting more as a notification of the albums existence I would like to say a few things in regards to it, afterall, what kind of reviewer would I be if I kept my mouth shut!? I would be a poor one, if you needed the question answered...a poor one. Like many of you (I think?), I enjoy when artists give us stripped versions of their work, especially if they take the time to create new arrangements that lend themselves more to the simplified version. LIGHTS does that and then some, by rearranging the order so the album. While this may seem like an effortless task, it's done with intent as it helps the record carry more of a flow while also giving us (me) the feel that a little time was put into it, rather than it just being a PR move to keep the artist in the lime light. I was a huge fan of Little Machines, more so than Siberia, so when I found out Midnight Machines was underway I was excited, obviously, but also curious to see the songs repurposed. She has a unique brand of pop, something that isn’t common, and while that’s not to say she isn't without her misses, I’ll always choose the unique over the universal. 

The album is excellent, the songs translate seamlessly, and some even fit their quiet approach better, though after listening to Midnight Machines and Little Machines back to back it was easy to appreciate both. Listening to the two separate renditions in one sitting also allowed me to recognize the depth of her work, which pop music is rarely rewarded for. Both records offered me something different, which I understand might be obvious, but it’s more than that. Sometimes you find a stripped down version of a song you love and you listen and say “that was good,” you might even revisit it a few times. Here I was able to appreciate it as its own song, and not “another version” of a song I know and enjoy. The excellent use of harmonies gives songs more of a presence, replacing synths and beats with vocal layering, adding fullness where she could have easily gotten away with space. LIGHTS takes her songs and lets them breath on Midnight Machines. Highlighting the lyrics but still showing us a new side of her artistry as she expands her sound in a different way. Her vocals are so smooth and relaxed, which in turn left me relaxed. To be honest, I prefer this take on her work; it feels like many of the songs actually lend themselves to this style naturally, which is probably this albums greatest accomplishment. While LIGHTS is not an acoustic artist, this is the kind of expanse I look for when I want other artists whose main forté is built on an acoustic sound. There can be more levels to their softness, James Vincent McMorrow displayed that perfectly, as his sophomore album, Post Tropical, was an explosion of growth and beauty. It’s true LIGHTS is coming from a different place, she’s still created something other artists should take note of. 

Did I mention there are two new tracks? I didn't, there are two new tracks, "Follow You Down" and "Head Cold." I wanted to highlight that they're there and also that they're really good. Normally in a situation like this I'd pick one of them to use as the single but instead I'm choosing one of the older tracks so I can put it up next to the original version so you can see how they compare. Is that cool? Does that sound like a cool thing I'm doing? Good. Here you go...