No Preamble: Lights – Little Machines (Deluxe Edition) 2014 – Album Review

Lyrics & Vocals: 9/10
Lights’ voice speaks for itself; there are too few vocalists of her caliber today. In terms of lyricism, Little Machines delivers a melancholic mixture between dark and cute moments. Lights vocabulary never ceases to surprise the close reader. There are gentle and complex concepts, both philosophical and playfully childish at times. A few repetitive concepts appear, such as the cliche of metaphorically being “low” and climbing “higher,” or of being a child and suffering from the battle between youth and adulthood. Luckily, Lights does it well.

Musicianship: 7/10
Nothing especially unique about this album in juxtaposition with her previous releases. There are moments of grittier-than-usual synth percolating throughout some choruses and interesting patches dancing along in the background. Also a bit more guitar is present, or at least appears in more stand-out areas than before. Excellent balance in the mix. Her vocals sit perfectly atop the instrumentation.

Album Cohesiveness/Flow: 9/10
This album carries its weight at almost all times from front to back. There is a nice blend of tempos fluctuating across each song and, although a few tracks lag behind, no chorus feels stale or repetitive. Little Machines begins with the tranquil, progressive “Portal” which extends itself into the full flow of the rest of the album. Some highlight tracks are “Up We Go,” “Speeding,” “Muscle Memory,” and…alright the whole album is awesome.

Experimentation: 6/10
This is perhaps Little Machines’ only weak point. It seems that The Listening was a collection of past demos and experimental jams, Siberia was a process of really honing her songwriting, and Little Machines is a refinement of all these sounds and ideas. The final bonus track, “From All Sides” has promise of dynamically pushing Lights in unexpected directions. It takes a few spins to (not “accept,” but) really adjust to the direction this album wants to take the listener. Not much has changed, but no two songs carry themselves the same

Overall: 31/50
The only appropriate way I can describe Little Machines is “ear Skittles.” Not a perfect A+, but certainly worth picking up and acquainting yourself with. Unlike so many artists who release copy-paste albums when they “find their sound,” Lights keeps things fresh without alienating her audience. Old and new listeners alike should be able to find high points across all 14 tracks.

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