By Bryony Holdsworth
“There are no members of Francis and the Lights. It is me and whoever else is involved. Including you”. The American music project is led by Francis Farewell Starlite, and although the frontman does experiment with an eclectic sound, his work is usually characterised by heavy electronic production and pockets of Balearic beat. ‘The Lights’ are intangible and shroud the music in an ethereal, radiant energy, described by Starlite as the lights on stage and pixels on a computer screen.
The American producer, musician and songwriter has released his second studio album Just for Us, and although the record maintains its heady electronics, the production is fervently stripped back. The LP opens with track ‘Morning’, a brisk introductory ditty which quickly flourishes into ‘Just For Us’, an electronic haven sprinkled with Francis’s distinct vocals- mixed and distorted.
Although the album is encompassed by the quintessential R&B/poppy amalgamated sound, polished with a veneer of heavy electronics, Starlite continues to use live vocals. This glossy contrast isolates his voice in track ‘I Won’t Lie To You’, and even against the noisy feedback, his intonation is crisp and clear. ‘Never Back’ strays away from this agenda as Francis begins to fall back on vocal distortion. The harmonic result is dreamy, particularly with the delicate synthesiser softening any corrosive edges.
The album moves sporadically between highly charged, disco melodies to delicate piano ballads woven with intimate narratives. The synth-pop and compressed production shifts and glimmers throughout the LP, as the modern delicacy of Starlite’s talent continues to exude elegance.