Lights grows as artist, loosens focus

Lights grows as artist, loosens focus

Alex Burnham, Reporter

More than a year ago, Canadian synthpop artist Lights released her second studio album “Siberia.” Valerie Anne Poxleitner, the name behind Lights, won various accolades for the new wave album, including gold certification and a Juno Award nomination for pop album of the year. Poxleitner created a unique, 57-minute expanse of expressive indietronica laced with meaningful lyrics.

Flash forward to 2013 and Poxleitner has reconstructed “Siberia” in an acoustic manner, this time titled “Siberia (Acoustic).” Intimate re-recordings resonate with Poxleitner’s intrinsic melody, though the album itself may be disorienting for fans of classic Lights. The 26-year-old Canadian abandoned her electric guitars, keyboards and pop beats for acoustic guitars, piano, an occasional cello accompaniment and backing vocals.

The April 30 release excises three songs heard on the original album but retains its three singles.

These titles include “Toes,” “Banner” and “Timing is Everything,” all of which include soulful guitar strumming and impeccable rhythm. Poxleitner demonstrates an instrumental talent that some listeners may have ignored on “Siberia,” given that a majority of the music was electronic.

“Toes” describes the unequivocal sensation of infatuation. Poxleitner sings, “Oh, you capture my attention … keeping my eyes on you.” Her relaxed voice joins with the guitar in an organic combination, intertwined and complex. Precise music powerfully transmits Poxleitner’s emotions.

“Siberia (Acoustic)” demonstrates not only a musical ability but also a lyrical one. Listeners may decry a supposed superficiality of electronic music; however, the synthetic exterior reveals an animate architecture composing the arrangement. Poxleitner distinguishes herself from the bubblegum pop marketed for a teenage audience while still incorporating the lighter indietronica of Adam Young, aka Owl City.

“Cactus in the Valley” features the singer-songwriter. A melancholy Poxleitner pairs with the upbeat Young in a congenial way: The two trade verses and join for the chorus. “I need someone by my side,” Poxleitner sings with determination.

And for the most part, “Siberia (Acoustic)” is a clear indication of Poxleitner’s talent. Her pitch ranges on “Flux and Flow,” a stunning vocal performance amidst reverberating acoustic guitar.

However, the pitfall for the electronic artist is shifting from her roots. She has the ability to create beautiful music in a discreet style, but this fails to progress her known talent. Poxleitner can prove herself a capable artist by making an acoustic album — she merely loses the focus of being genre-specific.

Poxleitner’s ability to sing well ensures her production doesn’t blunder completely, but an acoustic compilation deviates too far from her customary music. “Siberia (Acoustic)” evidences a harmonic talent and stuns listeners, but it detracts from known success.

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