By Charlie Dowd
Anyone who is a fan of Lights, knows that she is by far one of the quintessential artists in electronic music of the last decade. The Canadian native's trademark childlike voice and wonder-soaked songwriting give her tracks a sense of wanderlust and excitement that is truly enviable.
However, on latest release Midnight Machines, Lights brings things down from a roar to a whisper. With each album, she has followed it with an acoustic reworking of the key tracks, Little Machines (The EP's parent album) is no exception. The EP opens with "Up We Go", which was the lead single for the aforementioned LP. The original is bouncy, and so catchy you miss the emotion buried deep beneath the synths in the lyrics she sings. Following is "Same Sea", which was originally a frenetic and over the top piece of melodrama, but here is a fragile ballad.
It's not all reworked material though, the first of two new songs on the release is "Follow You Down". It's a string-laden, urgent track about being there for anyone come hell or high water. Next is "Meteorites", which was the only track released prior to the EP drop with an accompanying video, which you can check out below.
The EP continues with the deeply poignant "Don't Go Home Without Me", Lights' love letter to her beau, who she wants to grow old with. It's all about reaching the twilight of your life with your true love by your side, we're swooning. Perhaps the standout of the EP, is "Running With The Boys." It's original incarnation is a slick slice of synth-pop, and the charm of the original carries over into this take. It's a call back to the glory of youth, when all you had to worry about was who you were going to play with at the weekend, not bills or work...
Perhaps letting the overall quality down towards the end is new track "Head Cold", and "Muscle Memory", the former is haunting yet achingly dull and overwrought. The latter was not a stellar track to begin with, and it's stuttered melody has not translated well into an acoustic medium.
Lights has undoubtedly crafted something special with Midnight Machines, it's much more than just a collection of reworked songs to grab a bit of cash. It stands as it's own body of work, and showcases Lights' songwriting in the way it feels like it's meant to be consumed. The layers fall away, and all you have left is the quality standard of art that Lights has set herself to. She may be Queen of electronics, but perhaps it's time she commits to acoustic full time.