Lights' 2011 sophomore effort Siberia is a much heavier sounding affair than her gentle, 2009 full-length The Listening. There she delivered a batch of Cyndi Lauper-meets-Postal Service-meets-Daft Punk dorm room anthems that were pleasantly catchy. Two years later, Siberia showcases singer/songwriter Valerie Poxleitner's more mature, sonically sophisticated approach to her synth-driven melodic pop that draws on such dance-sympathetic styles as dubstep, hip-hop, and electronica. Where before Lights' keyboards plinked and percolated like tiny bubbles popping with a soft, twee-like exuberance, here she slams you with overdriven, fuzz-pulsing synth and drum machine-driven tracks that, aside from Poxleitner's angelic vocals, have an almost purposefully lo-fi sound. Which isn't to say Siberia sounds bad; on the contrary, the album -- produced with some assistance from Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh of Toronto's indie electronic ensemble Holy Fuck -- is a blissful, laser-toned experience where Poxleitner's sweet voice is expertly wrapped in stylish, multicolored hues of fluorescent keyboard squelch and bass guitar shimmer. In that sense, tracks like the yearning "Where the Fences Are Low" and the sparkling, anthemic "Toes" bring to mind the work of such similarly inclined contemporaries as the Naked and Famous and M83. Elsewhere, the yearning and dancey "Everybody Breaks a Glass," the grand "Flux and Flow," and the funky "Fourth Dimension" are sexy, passionate, club-ready cuts that sound something like early Madonna mashed up with the Buggles' Age of Plastic and piped through a boom box with blown-out speakers. If this is the sound of Siberia, then Lights should have you begging to be exiled.
by Matt Collar