LIGHTS | The Listening (Sire)

lights.jpg"Why then," you ask, "are you reviewing this CD, smart guy? Aren’t you the guy in charge of the comic book section or something?"


Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne may both be teen pop stars with similar listener demographics, but musically, they really don’t have that much in common. Imagine, then, if you took Avril’s heart-on-sleeve pop-rock songs and gave them to a bland-voiced Britney and her army of producers to create a more heartfelt hybrid of dancefloor-ready electropop, with a few saccharine ballads thrown in for good measure. The result would sound an awful lot like LIGHTS, Canada’s latest teen pop chanteuse.

And that result, sadly, isn’t really much to write home about. LIGHTS’ babygirl coo is pleasant enough, but she apparently has no range to speak of; on songs like big hit single "Saviour," her voice has been Auto-Tuned to within an inch of its life. The beats are solidly constructed but not particularly memorable, all generic late-90s techno with a bit of Postal Service-style twee-electropop sprinkled on for flavor. The lyrics don’t really jump out at you except for those occasions where they’re in-your-face with how cheesy they are; the song "Ice," God help us, completely un-ironically includes the words "Ice ice baby." Being a 30-year-old indie rock dude, I’m obviously not LIGHTS’ intended audience, but I can’t help but think that even if you are a fan of this stuff, The Listening is strictly "average." For everyone else, well, you can see the letter grade in red at the end of the review.

"Why then," you ask, "are you reviewing this CD, smart guy? Aren’t you the guy in charge of the comic book section or something?" Right you are, reader, and believe it or not, there’s a comics-related reason why this album ended up in my review queue. See, LIGHTS wants you to know that despite her pop star identity, she’s also a bona fide nerd who’d rather skip the club and spend her nights at home pwning n00bs on World of Warcraft. To that end, she teamed up with comic book artist Tomm Coker (Blood & Water, Daredevil: Noir) to create Audio Quest: A Captain LIGHTS Adventure, a "motion comic" starring LIGHTS as a space adventurer on a quest to bring music to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

What is a "motion comic," you ask? Well, basically, it’s a relatively new concoction where still comic book art is given a soundtrack, voice-acted dialogue, and minimalist animation to create what is less a comic and more a really shittily animated cartoon. Audio Quest, perhaps surprisingly, ends up being pretty fun: there is no doubt that Tomm Coker is a phenomenal artist, and the story is pure over-the-top kitsch that LIGHTS plays strictly for goofs. But don’t take my word for it; watch it yourself here. Sure, it didn’t change my opinion of the underlying music, but it showed so much personality that you can’t help but hope LIGHTS manages to find an audience for her music. Even if that audience isn’t cynical old dudes like me. D | Jason Green


RIYL: Kylie Minogue


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