Top 5: Pretty Lights

Pretty Lights
Making Up A Changing Mind, Spilling Over Every Side, Glowing In The Darkest Night
Street: 03.02, 07.29, 10.22

Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights made it his mission to release three EPs this year. Each song on these three EPs are beautifully crafted, with intricate layers, complex breakdowns and groovy riffs that work together to create something to get genuinely excited about. Each EP stands on its own stylistically. The first is a plunge into hard, emotive beats and wonked out synths, as if Smith just jumps right into a tornado and is seeing what he can handle. The second is coming to terms with what the first accomplished, looking out from inside of the tornado, with some of the hardest, darkest tracks Smith has produced yet. The third is the calm after the storm, when everything slows down, and all makes sense again. In an October interview, Smith told me that he gets amped about all of the music he creates, and you can tell. His excitement and his inspiration from creating such original, fresh and fun music seeps through in tracks such as “Total Fascination,” a no-holds-barred dirt-nasty dance song. You can get lost in the complexity of the arrangements on “A Million Tomorrows” or in the pitter-patter of the broken up, scattered beat on “I Can See It In Your Face.” The samples, drawn from every corner of music history—soul, blues, jazz, hip hop and funk—portray emotion succinctly and powerfully. “Drift Away” seamlessly blends varied styles of samples into a passionate, poignant song. Every song, even the instrumentals, dig deep into your body, grab your heart, and squeeze it to the beat, exemplified in “Looking For Love (But Not So Sure).” This music is so sincere, and lovingly crafted, that it feels timeless. It feels like it’s always been here and it always will be. It’s not just dance music. It’s honest and meaningful. –Jessie Wood