Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Album Review: Pretty Lights - Passing By Behind Your Eyes

My apologies to Adam and Meg for the several month hiatus. Released on October 6th on their own Passing By Behind Your Eyes, is Pretty Lights' third and, in my opinion, best album to date. The album features just 13 tracks as opposed to the 26 featured on their previous album, Filling Up The City Skies. Commenting on this in an interview on Boulder Colorado's 95.3 FM Green Light Radio, Pretty Light's Own Derek Vincent Smith stated that in spite of their trend of releasing all of their albums on their own at no cost (unless you feel like making a donation) he felt that the standard length allowed by CDs was more than adequate for the listening experience he wanted to provide with this newest release. And oh, does it provide.

Pretty Lights is known for blending Hard Hitting Electro beats seamlessly with a multitude of musical genres. Using Ableton, his Akai MPD24 and his trusty Monome, Derek Vincent Smith has infused Electro with Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues and Soul, to name a few, in a way that is not often seen, but greatly appreciated. Pretty Lights do not simply Mash-Up older records with a four on the floor beat, but rather intertwine wonderful compositions with intricate, non repetitive, and often live (Pretty Lights tours with Drummer Cory Eberhard) beats to create something more than just silly dance music for the MDMA fueled Disco Nation of today, but rather something newer and more organic. What results is something more akin to artists like Bonobo or Quantic, who often use full live bands in their compositions.

Where the Passing By Behind Your Eyes surpasses its predecessors is in its focus, rather than breadth. In the past, their albums have showed a range of composition from fast paced hard hitting dance tracks, to mellow, chill out tunes, almost an exposé of what they are capable of. In this case, the intention is clear: Pretty Lights wants you to fucking rage. While the musical scope of previous albums is present, it is so in the songs themselves, leaving the general feel of the album as a whole undisturbed. They want you to dance, they want you to throw your hands in the air, the want to rock your foundations, then they give you a moment to breathe, and they want you to do it all over again. The glitch-hop style that is synonymous with some performance artists like MEGASOID and Glitch Mob comes to mind, though Pretty Lights' sound is considerably more polished and refined. Tracks like Fly Away Another Day, Let Em Know Its Time To Go, and Keep Em Bouncin really exemplify this newly refined, heavy hitting, polished glitch sound that resonates throughout the album, even in some of the slower songs. All in all I think Pretty Lights has gotten the message, all of his music has been great, but the people want to dance. Keep it coming!

Pretty Lights is currently touring nationally, and will be in New York City at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza next Thursday, November 19th. His newest album, and all others are available for free at

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