It shouldn't surprise any Ellie Goulding fan to know that the British songstress wrote music for the likes of Gabriella Cilmi and Diana Vickers before issuing this full-length debut. That's because Goulding's sound doesn't stretch far from other teen Brit-pop artists of 2010, who are more likely to pull back and dig deep on a record than indulge in the froth of Girls Aloud or Sugababes. Goulding finds a balance between both camps on Lights. Ultimately, Goulding's debut album is something of relevance; it lacks the dramatic crash and bang of Florence + the Machine's Lungs, but is certainly a more restrained, compelling listen than the debut records by Pixie Lott and Little Boots, two artists whose electronic dance-pop is echoed here. Goulding's quite the songwriter, and tracks like "This Love" and "Under the Sheets" suggest a willingness to indulge her creative side, taking left-hand turns and unexpected detours rather than focusing on sure-fire hits, like Paloma Faith's album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? Sometimes, an acoustic guitar guides the song along. Other times, synthesizers and drum loops take over. Goulding is able to take the best parts of all of her contemporaries' styles and make them her own, coating everything in the breathy flutter of her voice. Fans will probably be drawn more to Bright Lights, a reissued version of this album with seven new tracks, but Lights is strong enough to stand on its own without the bonus material.
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AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling