Lights, supporting sophomore album, brings tour to San Francisco 

click to enlarge Diversifying: Lights’ second album “Siberia” includes snappy synth rock tunes and dark, dramatic epics. (courtesy photo)
  • Diversifying: Lights’ second album “Siberia” includes snappy synth rock tunes and dark, dramatic epics. (courtesy photo)

Midway through her new sophomore recording “Siberia,” amid Erasure-bubbly anthems like “Toes,” “Banner” and “Peace Sign,” Canadian synth-rocker Lights has placed a dubstep-jittery dirge called “Heavy Rope.”

It sounds like a plaintive cry for help as she whispers, “Don’t let me tumble away, toss me a heavy rope, it’s a slippery slope/Come bail me out of this God-forsaken precipice.”

“That’s one of the only sad songs on the record,” she says. “But I was going through a time where I was singing exactly what I was feeling, like, ‘I’m losing it here! — c’mon, you’ve got to rein it back in, Lights!’”

The trouble? In a nutshell, growing pains, says the 24-year-old, who appears in The City on Tuesday.

For a full year after her gossamer 2009 debut “The Listening,” she was confused, unsure of how to proceed, creatively.

Urged on by her manager, however, she began to experiment, eventually collaborating with Toronto’s electronic trailblazers Holy F--- and rapper Shad for tracks that would become “Siberia.”

It proved such a startling sonic departure that her U.S. Sire/Warners imprint refused to release it; Last Gang Records issued it instead.

“Siberia’s” Kraftwerk-creaky closer, the nearly nine-minute “Day One,” is the tail end of her first hyper-productive jam session with her HF chums, Lights marvels, which also led to “Everybody Breaks a Glass” and the pneumatic title cut.

“We had a great time just writing together and putting little flaws in the music,” she says of the eye-opening experience. “There were moments making this record when I suddenly felt butterflies, and I thought, ‘I’ve never heard this before, what we’re doing!’ We were just … inventing.”

Lights — who traveled the world as a child with her missionary parents — had sworn that she never would release a love song until she could write one from experience. Hence the romantic nature of several “Siberia” sonnets.

For the past year, she’s been dating Blessthefall frontman Beau Bokan.

“I’ve actually found a person who brings out the best in me, and that’s a big part of this record,” she says.  

The keyboardist has also been taking computer-system courses online so she can master video-game design, and she also started selling limited-edition lithographs of her Roy Lichtenstein-ish paintings.

“I’m fascinated by how much drama you can convey with just some simple lines and colors,” she says.
Lights is still stunned by Warners’ negative reaction to her work. “It really freaked some people out there,” she says. “But there are moments when you just know you have something great, and it doesn’t matter what everyone else says.”

 


IF YOU GO
Lights

Where:
Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com

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Tom Lanham

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