At its best, electronic dance music is an immersive experience. It illuminates the room in pure ecstacy and relaxed inhibitions — a phenomenon that alternative pop musician, Lights gets right every single time! Especially with her newly released album titled PEP. In thirteen vivacious tracks, she revels in her self-confidence, perky bitterness, and firestarter qualities.
“Beside Myself,” the introductory track, is an ethereal mix of steady drums and pizzicato guitar strings. With spacey reverb, the song’s aura is hopeful in both sound and lyrics. Anticipating that a better future is on the horizon despite falling on shaky ground: “As they guide us to the next life / We hold onto the good times.” The synth buildup right before the beat drop is both nerve-wracking and hopeful for what’s to come as the album progresses.
The following track, “In My Head” features Josh Dun, who is one-half of the renowned alt-rock group, Twenty One Pilots. His impressive performance on the drums enhances this song in ways that are unimaginable without it; they’re rapid, yet structured. They complement Lights’ layered harmonies, particularly as he ramps up the energy toward the third verse.
The first two tracks are easily forgotten, however, as “Prodigal Daughter” casts them in its fiery shadow. Lights’ wastes no time diving in with a dizzying synth and hearty vocals, confident and eager to return to her glory days of reckless authenticity (“Love, magic, feminism / I don’t need superstition”). The lyrics are simply fun!
Much of this album is perfect for the dance floor, even the more mellow tunes have an underlying vitality to them (such as “Voices Carry”). In fact, the midsection of PEP stands out among the rest in terms of memorability.
“Jaws” has arguably the best melody on the album. It benefits from her staccato delivery (“Oh she got claws / Fuck it, she got jaws”) and animated vocal tone. The surprising, but lovely synth gliding along the track heightens the sassy lyrics about being underestimated. It’s clear that Lights knows how to utilize her voice. It’s vibrant, charismatic, and perfectly suited for her stimulating approach to music.
She tends to make music that feels all-encompassing. For example, “Money In the Bag (ft. Kiesza)” has an insatiable energy with killer high notes, while “Rent” may be tame in comparison, but still envelopes listeners in complete warmth. One of the tracks swaying between tolerable and overwhelming is “Sparky.” It’s a little too cluttered for comfort with its distorted backing vocals and synthesizer effects piling on top of one another. Though it’s one of the weaker tracks, it still leaves an impression worthy of mentioning.
PEP is a wonderfully cohesive piece of work, incorporating elements of electropop and rock. Engaging your ears with colorful synths, plentiful glissandos, and tantalizing vocals. Listeners are in for a treat and a lively night out!