Starry-eyed debut hits more often than misses.
Rating: 6 / 10
Celina Murphy, 24 Mar 2010
It’s not all cake and bunnies, topping the BBC Sound of 2010 poll. You needn’t go back as far as The Bravery, just ask 2009 winner Little Boots, in whom the world took an extraordinary interest until we realised that she’s very annoying and can’t sing. Now it’s the turn of Little Boots 2.0 – aka Ellie Goulding – to be scrutinised. To be fair, Ms Goulding can actually sing – even if we have to look to YouTube for proof.
Unfortunately, in drafting in producer Starsmith nearly all of the 23-year-old’s natural folk sensibility has been lost in throbbing bleeps and echoes. The stargazey ‘Guns And Horses’ may be the first song on the record but it’s the last one where you can tell what the fuck you’re listening to. As Goulding exclaims “I see your face in every star”, her voice reels off into the stratosphere. But it sounds phenomenal and the track’s concluding 15 second breakdown is the most interesting thing on the album.
Elsewhere, hoodie-wearing fembot Goulding has a blippy electro masterpiece on her hands with ‘Wish I Stayed’ while ‘Under The Sheets’ has a riff anyone from Florence to Passion Pit would kill for.
However, after these highlights, things slide rapidly downhill. The Kate Bush-esque quiver on ‘Every Time You Go’ only emphasises that Goulding is not, in fact, Kate Bush, and has nothing that even resembles a dark side. Indeed, around 40% of Lights is pure filler – airy digi-pop packed with pointless outer space noises.
Oddly enough one of the most production-ravaged tracks, finale ‘Salt Skin’, does remarkably well by the fact that its processed beats and warped choirs overtake Goulding’s own melodies. Lights works when one or the other, Ellie or Starsmith, is allowed take control.
Boasting über slick arrangements and whirring production that will date within the month, Lights simply has no edge. Luckily, Goulding’s voice flips and cartwheels frequently and fascinatingly enough to hold onto our interest.