Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Many times, it really does just sneak up on us. One day, we're still covered by our parents' insurance policy, we're going to school, we're barely employed and loving it, we're having relationship problems but they're just flimsy and throw-away and then we get whiplashed into the dicey waters. We suddenly have our own insurance man or woman and we're starting to develop a distaste for birthdays - lying about our age and generally relishing the way things used to be when we were kids. Dinners were easier (we didn't cook and we didn't pay for any of the food). People were more accommodating and pleasant. Smiles and hugs went a lot further and there were no such things as irony or sarcasm - that we could make out as it wasn't for us to say or comprehend. Valerie Poxleitner, who writes and performs under the name LIGHTS, is preoccupied with this rather hurried and blindsiding transition from the immeasurable freedoms and overall whimsy of youth and the choppy waves of adulthood that step right in and start staring us down, casting a pall over most things. No relationships are without pretext or significant difficulties and there are no free meals anymore, except around the holidays. Vacations are rare and having a euphoric feeling of not being tied into any one circumstance or setting isn't realistic anymore. It might just be you, your job, a dog that has accidents on the carpet and another person in your life that you can and can't sense moving forward with. You're just biding your time and it's infuriating you. You're starting to feel as if something's just not close to being right. LIGHTS songs are pumping synthesizer-styled jams that are made for dancing to at times, but then there's Poxleitner singing about wanting to run away from it all, to clean house and just get another chance to make a first impression or to have a first impression of what the rest of her life might turn out to be like. Much of the material on "The Listening" is stuffed with things that aren't quite right and it's wearing her thin. These are mid-life crisis-like moments at an age where nothing should have gone so shitty wrong yet. But her she is, singing from the muck, streaming her devastatingly wrecked, but still optimistic for another go-round lyrics alongside some thick backbeats and airy string sounds, keyboard brews. On "Pretend," there's an active cursing of how things have become, so far away from what they once were, when scraps and injuries were covered up with Flintstones Band-Aids and kissed to be made magically better. The times when soda pop was imagined to be wine and guns were only filled with water are remembered as the golden years and now, there's nothing like that and Poxleitner isn't shy about being discouraged by that innocence being ripped to shreds. She's hoping for and singing to some sort of escape hatch or a prince charming to begin anew, somewhere else, hinting on "Pretend," that going a long ways back into time might even be the way to go, by singing, "It would be nice to start over again, before we were men."
Lights Official Site
Warner Brothers Records