Lights - 'Siberia (Acoustic)'
It’s not like this is a landmark release for the Canadian electropop singer-songwriter, with the album being as the title suggests, an album covering her 2011 release Siberia. The 2011 release was pretty good; if I were to retroactively grade it, I’d probably smack it with a 7.6/10 (ish). Having said this, my entire perception of Lights is hampered by my intense crush on her. Just check out this Tumblr dedicated to her, and you’ll see what I mean. Coming from a strong hardcore/metalcore background (see- her numerous appearances in ‘core’ tracks, on Bring Me The Horizon’s There Is A Hell… and Silverstein’s A Shipwreck In The Hand, etc.) and this comes through in a lot of her tracks on the original Siberia, with big synthy breakdowns that sound like they were not meant for electropop
I had the honour of seeing her live when she supported The Jezabels live last year, and it comes out in her live performances, with an almost 2-step coming out in these very breakdowns, while she mashes on a keyboards and synths with one hand each. Needless to say, seeing her live only reinforced my love for, and have since spent a fair bit of time listening to Siberia.
The thing I found most striking about the acoustic rendition is that on more than half of the songs, Lights takes a very different approach to the songs than she did in 2011. One fine example of this is the title track Siberia; in the 2011 release this was a fairly upbeat track with lots of catchy melodic hooks. But come 2013, the track is now slow dramatic piano ballad featuring Dine Alone’s Arkells front-man, Max Kerman. From the outside, this appears to be an attempt to add to Lights’ credentials as a singer-songwriter rather than just allowing her electronic, sometimes over-produced sound to sell records. On tracks like the aforementioned this works very well, however on other tracks, the lyrical content probably doesn’t warrant this added depth; such as Peace Sign, which now features French-Canadian singer songwriter Beatrice Martin aka Coeur de Pirate, who sings a couple verses in French. The song has strings underneath an abrasively filtered acoustic guitar, which is a fine attempt at adding drama to a song that didn’t deserve it. One feature artist I hated was Adam Young from Owl City on the track Cactus In The Valley, which is mainly due to my disdain for his voice, but the arrangement in this song is probably one of the better ones on the album.
Something I’ve found interesting but can’t yet find a reason for is the rearrangement of the songs on the album. Most all of the songs are in a different order to prior, and not all songs are covered (15 on the original, 10 on the acoustic). What this does suggest to me (sadly) is that Lights is writing songs, NOT albums; which is probably one of my favourite aspects in music as a whole. When you listen to an album start to finish and acknowledge that the artist is different when taking a whole album in, than just that sick single they’ve been smashing on the radio.
Valerie is obviously thinking about the order now though, if there is a conscious effort to rearrange the songs. Considering this, as well as her clear attempt to add drama, layers and real focal points in her existing music, I’d be very confident in saying we can expect something very different on her next release. (We should also note she got married in the middle of last year, so I’d say there’s been a lot of maturing and we’ll hear a lot about that, I’m sure). Siberia (Acoustic), is definitely worth listening to if you are (a) an acoustic music fan or (b) a Lights fan; I don’t see it appealing to a wider audience. As an ‘in between’ release I’m fairly pleased, but I am both (a) and (b); I particularly loved the tracks Flux and Flow, Where The Fence Is Low and Toes. Oh and sorry for the sexualisation, to anyone who it offends... but she's really attractive.
Lights - Cactus In The Valley (Acoustic) feat. Owl City