16 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sweet and shimmering, the music of Canadian singer/songwriter Lights (a.k.a. Valerie Poxleitner) goes down easy and leaves a tingling aftertaste. The Listening, her 2009 debut album, has the intimate feel of a bedroom reverie. Lights’ spiritually tinged lyrics return again and again to the theme of divine comfort and aid — songs like “Saviour,” “Drive My Soul” and “Second Go” are upwardly directed expressions set to throbbing, high-gloss tracks. “February Air” and “Quiet” are more explicitly romantic, lending an appealing innocence by Lights’ breathy, waif-like vocals. Throughout, The Listening revels in vintage and modern synthesizer textures, switching between jittery techno-dance tunes (“Ice,”“River”) and atmospheric (though still beat-driven) soundscapes (“Face Up,” the title song). Whether she’s confronting her fears in “Lions!” or yearning for lost childhood in “Pretend,” Lights wraps her gossamer sonic threads around serious topics. Though her touch is frequently soft, she’s capable of flashes of intensity, as “The Last Thing On Youe Mind” shows.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sweet and shimmering, the music of Canadian singer/songwriter Lights (a.k.a. Valerie Poxleitner) goes down easy and leaves a tingling aftertaste. The Listening, her 2009 debut album, has the intimate feel of a bedroom reverie. Lights’ spiritually tinged lyrics return again and again to the theme of divine comfort and aid — songs like “Saviour,” “Drive My Soul” and “Second Go” are upwardly directed expressions set to throbbing, high-gloss tracks. “February Air” and “Quiet” are more explicitly romantic, lending an appealing innocence by Lights’ breathy, waif-like vocals. Throughout, The Listening revels in vintage and modern synthesizer textures, switching between jittery techno-dance tunes (“Ice,”“River”) and atmospheric (though still beat-driven) soundscapes (“Face Up,” the title song). Whether she’s confronting her fears in “Lions!” or yearning for lost childhood in “Pretend,” Lights wraps her gossamer sonic threads around serious topics. Though her touch is frequently soft, she’s capable of flashes of intensity, as “The Last Thing On Youe Mind” shows.

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About Lights

Lights first cracked the Canadian charts in May 2008, when the debut single, "Drive My Soul," introduced her synthesis of youthful, sellable alt-rock and contemporary synth pop. Born in April 1987 in Timmins, Ontario, Valerie Poxleitner spent her childhood traveling alongside her missionary parents. She also took up songwriting at an early age, using verses from the Bible to prompt titles for her new material. She began writing music for Sony/ATV Music Publishing at the age of 18; shortly thereafter, however, she ditched the behind-the-scenes gig and hit the road with her own instruments, playing shows in the Great Lakes region and eventually landing a contract with the Toronto-based punk label Underground Operations. An American partnership with Doghouse Records followed, and the young songwriter issued her first recording, the self-titled Lights EP, in April 2008. Several singles found a warm reception on Canadian radio outlets, while Lights became a vibrant and endearing presence on MuchMusic's TV countdown.

Early the following year, Lights won a Juno Award for New Artist of the Year and landed a spot on that summer's Warped Tour, all the while preparing her debut album, The Listening, which was released in October 2009. The album peaked at number seven on the Canadian albums chart and eventually achieved gold status. In 2011, Lights returned with her sophomore full-length album, Siberia. Produced with Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh of Toronto's indie electronic ensemble Holy Fuck, the album showcased a mature, sonically sophisticated sound. Two years later, Lights delivered Siberia Acoustic, which featured her performing reworked acoustic versions of songs off Siberia.

Lights' third studio album, Little Machines, appeared in 2014. Recorded while she was pregnant with her first child with husband and blessthefall lead singer Beau Bokan, the album showcased her return to a more melodic if no less electronic-inclined sound. The album debuted at number five in Canada and won the 2015 Juno Award for Pop Album of the Year. As she did with Siberia, Lights followed Little Machines with the acoustic album Midnight Machines.

In 2017, she returned with her fourth studio album, Skin & Earth, featuring the singles "Giants" and "Savage," the latter of which featured Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun. A multi-media concept album centering on a female protagonist in a post-apocalyptic world, Skin & Earth was accompanied by a comic book written and drawn by Lights. ~ Andrew Leahey

HOMETOWN
Timmins, Ontario, Canada
GENRE
Pop
BORN
April 11, 1987

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