Lights overflows with pop that’s as infectious as it is intelligent. But this wasn’t the British chanteuse’s first foray into songwriting — prior to recording her own songs, Goulding had smithed tunes of the teenaged Brit-pop flavor for Diana Vickers and Gabriella Cilmi. Rather than extract from the same well of inspiration, Lights cleverly wafts between indie-folk and electro-pop. The title-track introduces the album with pleasantly soft beats pulsing under her plumed and airy inflections. This is nicely contrasted against a driving rhythm in the chorus and some razor-honed hooks in the melody. The rich organic resonance of a wooden acoustic guitar changes the tone on the following “Guns and Horses” while keeping Goulding’s sprightly energy intact. Goulding’s vocal presence throughout balances salience with restraint, especially on “Starry Eyed,” a standout tune that blends helium-infused balladry with tasteful Euro-dance. Conversely, “Under The Sheets” forgoes obvious hooks for less predictable arrangements and melodic detours while maintaining melodies that are impossible to forget.
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