Review Summary: Bouncy, dark, mysterious, spacey, danceable at times, perfect to relax at other times, Pretty Lights' 2010 EP “Glowing in the Darkest Night“, is a beast of many colors and all of them are shining bright.
Derek Vince Smith who hails from Colorado has been one of the up and coming names in the electro music scene, since he dropped his debut in “Taking up your precious time“ 2006 and subsequently released follow up LPs in 2008 and 2009. All of those efforts were pretty good, showcasing a lot of promise and potential but also felt like they good be improved in a lot of ways. In 2010 Smith really started to hit his stride, releasing a trilogy of excellent EPs over the course of 2010.
His latest offering “Glowing in the Darkest Night” is the strongest of the bunch and will take you on a highly enjoyable trip through the darkest Night.
In a time where electronic music is bigger than ever and with names like Calvin Harris and David Guetta landing smash hit after smash hit, while in fact reproducing the same, slightly tweaked three songs over and over again, it’s easy get turned off by the whole genre. With a plethora of acts like dangermau5 woop wooping the bridges and drops into your skull, it’s easy to say, that electronica is a pretty cheap genre sometimes. Although there is also a lot of well made electronic music out there, it’s still nice to see, how much Smith obviously cares about every single note and every single detail.
“Glowing in the Darkest Night” is a very rich sounding album; Smith uses a great variety of instruments, samples and glitches to create a really diverse and detailed soundscape. He initially produced and wrote Hip Hop songs; way before he produced his first full length effort and his roots really shine through on a lot the tracks. Some of the beats could be on a slightly spacey Hip Hop album and he even samples Grandmaster flash on “Shining bright despite the blight”. But hip hop is by no means his only influence. Pretty lights expertly infuses a lot of styles into his songs, from deep and hard hitting hip hop beats, over funky guitar licks, to soul samples, Smith has got it all, and more often than not, he will use all of those elements and more in a single song. This may sound overbearing, but while he does that, Smith also manages to create very coherent tracks, which rarely feel stuffed with too many things, but instead are very focused on creating a certain mood. While those moods differ from song to song, the overall feel of the EP sticks to the title “Glowing in the Darkest night” and is pretty dark and brooding, except for the uplifting closer “So much in the Dark” which starts out moody as well, but explodes into a triumphant finale and ends the EP on a very high note. Opener “Still night” is another highlight, starting things off with a mysterious, dark intro that reels you in, and then proceeds into the bold sample “what makes the mother*cker so damn fresh” and subsequently lifts off with a bouncy beat, tasteful horns, weird soundloops and wonky glitches.
Sadly, there is still a bit of tweaking to be done until Smith releases a real masterpiece. While the EP is a very enjoyable listen from start to finish and works best when experienced as a whole, I still felt like the quality dipped a little after the first three tracks only so “Gold Coast Hustle” and “So much in the Dark” could pick up the slack again. “Shining bright despite the blight” meanders a bit aimlessly through some pretty weird transitions, and lacks any sort of punch, while “Drift away” is the only song that is the only song where Pretty Lights is trying to do many things at once and ends up with a pretty messy and incoherent song.
Despite some weaker songs in the middle section, overall this a highly enjoyable, very diverse and interesting effort by Pretty lights and a very fitting end to a trilogy of great Extended Plays.