Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ellie Goulding - Lights

I’m a sucker for blondes. Don’t ask me why, but I’m easily attracted to blondes. Some of my favorite actresses of all time are blondes: Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, Carey Mulligan, Marilyn Monroe and Charlize Theron. There is some kind of quality they seem to possess over me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Now I have a new blonde in my life.

Irresistible. Intelligent. Imaginative. No, I’m not just writing adjectives that start with the letter “I” or describing a girl I’m dating, but the voice of an angel named Ellie Goulding. Every once in a while a great singer comes along and in recent years we have been spoiled with the likes of Florence Welch, Adele, Katy Perry, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga. All these immensely talented women have created great music that has transcended genres and I believe Ellie Goulding is the next big thing.

Much like Florence Welch I believe it’s going to take a year after her debut before mainstream audiences truly catch on to this mesmerizing English beauty. Goulding released her debut album Lights in 2010, but Lights was only available in the United Kingdom. Fortunately for us Across the Pond, the album was released in the first of 2011.

English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding is quite similar to artists like Lykke Li, Florence Welch, Lights, Pixie Lott, Little Boots, Sky Ferreira and Kate Nash. Goulding could be best described as the sweeter and more innocent counterpart to fellow UK pop songstress Jessie J. From the very first time I heard her, much like Lykke Li and Florence Welch, I was instantly drawn to her sweet, unique voice. To describe her voice anything less than heavenly would be a travesty. Ellie Goulding has the voice of an angel (And yes that’s my second mention of it thus far- it’s not a typo or mistake).

The titular “Lights” kicks off Lights in stunning fashion. Killer beats accompany this sensational song that eerily emulates Goulding’s idol Björk. The single version of “Lights” is the one featured on the album with several variations available (an acoustic version and remixes by Bassnectar, MK Charlee Dub, Max Gordon, Shook, Drop Lamond, Fernando Garibay, Captain Cuts, Ming, and RAC) on various EPs. This is the second time I have composed a review in just as many days that I absolutely adore the titular track. “Lights” is an excellent first track and sets the mood perfectly. There’s a great dance/electronic vibe that transcends genres filled with fantastic pop lyrics.

Goulding is able to convey her darkness, yet mix it with a sweet sound that you get caught up in the lyrics without knowing it. “You show the lights/ that stop me turn to stone/ You shine it when I’m alone/ And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong/And dreaming when they’re gone” keep me begging for more. This starry-eyed beauty is the future of indie-pop music and this song proves why.

“Starry Eyed” is my favorite song featured on Lights and is one of the music highlights of 2011. The keyboards and drum programming perfectly supplement Goulding’s gorgeous voice. An addictive angelic-like tune, it somehow encompasses the best of disco, pop, and dance without losing its universal appeal. Being able to let go is tough, but the wonderful and heartfelt message in “Starry Eyed” makes it easier to overcome.

In the vein of “Starry Eyed,” the song “Under The Sheets” is another terrific track balancing electronic/dance with pop. Goulding certainly has a way with words and this song proves it once again, “We’re under the sheets/ and you’re killing me/ in our house made of paper/ your words all over me/ We’re under the sheets/ and you’re killing me.”

What words best describe the ballad “The Writer”? It’s kind of hard to describe, but I understand where detractors dislike this song and disregard Ellie Goulding. There is no real, rhyme or reason with the majority of these tracks because there is some sort of universal appeal that transcends genres. Initially, “The Writer” feels a Taylor Swift song, something that is “mainstream and poppy” while remaining true to the artist’s genre. If the music is good, it doesn’t really matter if you can’t properly classify it. Good music is good music.

Throughout the album there are traces of electropop artists like La Roux and Frankmusik while at the same time remaining purely pop music. Songwriter and producer Starsmith does a fantastic job producing a great album, much like he did with similar sounding indie pop artists Diana Vickers and Marina & The Diamonds.

Lights concludes with the endearing Elton John cover of “Your Song.” This tender track is the perfect gift to close out the album. Her delicate sweet voice provides a passionate cover showcasing her vulnerability. Goulding gives her heart and soul to create an affectionate and awesome song which will linger with you long after you have stopped listening.


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