Ever since listening to her hauntingly beautiful, Imogen Heap-esque cover of Bon Iver’s “Wolves,” I’ve been hooked on British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and eagerly anticipating her debut LP, Lights. After her first single “Under the Sheets” became an instant hit on British radio, the London it-girl has garnered a massive wave of hype and been labeled one of this year’s hottest new artists. Lights – an electro-infused pop album that delivers punchy, original pop songs – does not disappoint.
Catchy and infectious, the album’s first track, “Guns and Horses,” is a powerful lead-in to the rest of the songs and easily Lights‘ best. With her playful lyrics and driving pop beats with a folksy edge and a shot of electro, Goulding gets the energy level up and keeps it there throughout the album. Another highlight is the club-worthy “Starry Eyed,” a Kylie Minogue-like dance tune that’s screaming for a great remix. On the down side, the next track, “This Love (Will Be Your Downfall),” veers towards saccharine, calling to mind the generically sweet, radio-friendly pop fare of teen girls and soccer moms. Ballad “The Writer” is also underwhelming, as it sounds like it would be more at home on a Kelly Clarkson album than on Lights.
All things considered, Lights is a highly promising debut for the 23-year-old Goulding, but it certainly leaves room for improvement. Goulding fans, keep an ear out for her musical evolution in years to come.