Sunday, February 28, 2010

Album Review: Ellie Goulding - Lights (3.5/5)

Since topping the BBC's Sounds of 2009 poll, there's been masses of hype surrounding the debut release from English singer Ellie Goulding. After all those who top (or in some cases land in the top 3) the BBC's prestegious list are often destined for great things, for instance: last year, Little Boots won critical acclaim for her debut album Hands, and the year prior Duffy, who missed out on the top spot (landing behind other favorite Adele) had one of the years biggest selling albums with Rockferry. So it's only safe to assume Goulding would be destined for the same shade of success.

Whilst there is still some time to wait to determine the levels of Goulding commercial success--the question for now is weather Lights is worth the hype? From it's lush modern electronic-dance production to Goulding's fresh vocal talent, it lacks any notable variation to compete with a masterpiece like Rockferry.

Setting the mood is "Guns and Horses," beginning with a cool guitar and drums arrangement before ascending to an ambrosial breezy electronic dance production upon the chorus' arrival. Not the albums highlight but a pleasing opener, however way more pleasing is follow-up, "Starry Eyed," the official introduction to Goulding ("Under the Sheets" wasn't a big enough of an introduction) and potentially the albums biggest hit so far. Shimmering with an eccentric electro-pop bearing, layering synths with soft electronic undertones. It's rightfully the albums biggest highlight.

"This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)" ponders with synths also shadowing sleek electronic undertones, still doesn't really strike as a noteworthy highlight. Lead single "Under the Sheets," has a rugged drum bass line behind the sparkling production--which is about as rugged or hard-hitting as it gets. Whilst Goulding voice sounds very limited, it sounds like it can be stretched just enough so spawn a good ballad like "The Writer."

My favorite track besides "Starry Eyed" is "Every Time You Go," admittedly not that different to everything else on here, but its whimsical and warming production is awesome. It also has some very nice harmonies. Next is "Wish I Stayed" which adopts the shimmering eccentricity of "Starry Eyed" however in fact use to be a warm guitar ballad when I received as a free download on iTunes but it still sounds good.

The last three tracks are decent but aren't standouts. "Your Biggest Mistake" begins with cooling guitars and strings before bursting into an upbeat retro groove on the chorus. "I'll Hold My Breath" is nothing especially different and closing track "Salt Skin," has a eerie vibe which I like. Lights is a decent album, I don't love it but it does have some good moments--it suffers from little differentiation, although the idea behind the electro-pop theme is pretty cool and in all makes for a decent debut.

Best: Starry Eyed, Every Time You Go, Wish I Stayed, Guns and Horses, The Writer


Paul said...

i like it when i thought i wouldn't, so i've come at it with low expectations rather than high which i'm sure makes a difference. it's not a patch on the Marina album though :)

Mel said...

I'm excited for it based on "Under the Sheets" alone but still haven't had a chance to listen to it all the way through. Will let you know when I do.

Just want to say - Digging the layout changeup. :)

J.Mensah said...

Paul; I've been heard awesome reviews about Marina's album! I can't wait to listen to it!

Mel; I know said the whole thing about most of it sounding the same, but the album really does sound good and solid when you listen the whole way through. I'm pretty glad it could debut at #1 next week. And Thank You, yo! :)

rcLoy said...

I've been spinning this for a few days now. I kinda dig it, it doesn't really disappoint but it doesn't really stand out in any way for now. I haven't made up my mind yet about this album but if I love it enough, I will buzz about her soon, same goes with Marina's. Just a random question, this is better or Little Bootsie's Hands?

J.Mensah said...

I'm sure you'll love it eventually! I still haven't received my copy of Marina and the Diamonds album yet, I really can't wait--I'm convinced it'll be a good album or at least the first 4.5/5 of the year. Personally I prefer Little Boots' Hands--more consistent without everything sounding the same.