Francis and the Lights

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Championed by artists like Kanye West, Ryan Leslie, and Drake, Francis and the Lights make a compelling case for the return of Blue Eyed Soul. More accurately though, they are a Rock and Roll band, whose leader, Francis Farewell Starlite, writes Pop songs that make him want to dance. After two widely circulated EPs, a buzzed about music video that leaped to mtv2 without a record label, and a history of legendary New York shows, Francis and Lights now unveil their awaited 8-song debut, "It'll Be Better," and embark on a North American tour.

Francis does not present a persona or character in his work, but an uncompromising vision, and an attempt to account for everything. He approaches press interviews, as well as pop music, with concision. The 8 songs on "It'll Be Better" are succinct and propulsive (each one has a carefully crafted beat), lyrically rich, and for the first time in Francis and the Lights' music, there are lush, emphatic choruses. Many of the songs are deceptively simple, and stripped down, often exploding at the end with rhythm and instrumentation (see 'Knees to the Floor,' and the closer 'Get in the Car.') The idea of restraint, and then reveal, is a thread that runs through all of the band's work.

The "Lights" in the band's name is not what it seems. It does not refer to a backing band (though there is one, and it is tight as a drum), but rather to actual stage lights, and as Francis says "modern electricity in general." Under this symbolic name, Francis has collaborated (as producer, featured guest, or both) on tracks for Mark Ronson, Lyrics Born, and Drake, on albums which will all be released this year. Everything the band does is considered; from the sleeping-sitting-standing progression of the first three album covers, to the shared final frame of the two offical music videos made a year apart. Francis is an eccentric, but it is perfectionism and transparency that make Francis and the Lights 'elusive.' There are plans here. It is a train worth getting on.

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