Move over Marie Kondo – Lane 8 wants to spark joy in your heart with his stunning third album Brightest Lights, out now on This Never Happened.
Amidst the chaos unfurling around us in the world, Daniel Goldstein, better known as Lane 8, has offered us a beautiful distraction – his long-awaited third album. Aptly titled Brightest Lights, the LP is a breath of fresh air and, according to Goldstein’s Instagram post, something he hopes will “bring a little joy into your life in these crazy times.”
The release comes nearly two years to the day of his sophomore masterpiece Little By Little – an album so good that there was worry even an artist as prolific as Lane 8 would have trouble following it. But from the moment the leading track “Groundhog Day” begins, in a fantastic crescendo of synths and ethereal melody, we’re reminded that we never should have doubted him in the first place.
Stream or purchase Brightest Lights on your favorite platform and read on for our full review of this massive album from Lane 8
Stream Lane 8 – Brightest Lights via Spotify:
Armed with some of the same tools and vocalists that made Little By Little so successful, Goldstein’s latest project is similar to his last in a variety of ways.
For one, like Little By Little, it utilizes the same vocalists on numerous tracks. Long-time collaborator Poliça returns for a whopping three features on the album, including the title track and single “Brightest Lights” – a cheery homage to the feeling of being so in love that nothing else matters.
“Love’s the loudest sound,” Poliça muses, “All the world’s just noise / We will drown it out”. Those lyrics excellently encapsulate Goldstein’s aforementioned Instagram post and drive home his point that Brightest Lights was created with the intention of sparking happiness.
It’s a lighthearted album full of hope in a time of hopelessness, which is best listened to while being blasted in the car with the windows rolled down.
Whereas each track on Little By Little worked to tell its own portion of one overarching story, Brightest Lights can be enjoyed independently. That’s because its job isn’t to tell a story at all, but rather evoke a feeling – something it does so beautifully.
Standout track and also the final single released ahead of the album, “Just” is pulsing and dreamy, an instrumental track that doesn’t need lyrics to convey its positive message to the listener. “Sunday Song” also keeps things simple, with hymn-like samples reminiscent of something you would hear in church acting as the only vocals, sprinkled in amongst a chord collection that soothes as it builds to its eventual drop.
The art of the gradual build-up is something that any fan can tell you is something Lane 8 has mastered.
That gradual build-up is showcased prevalently on Brightest Lights. Tracks like “Yard Two Stone” draw the intro out for over a full two minutes before reaching its first climax, tantalizing and teasing the listener with Jens Kuross’ melancholy vocals. “Too old to last / Too young to fall apart,” he muses over an ambient melody that eventually builds to become a sped-up version of itself.
The energetic “Road” and haunting “Don’t Let Me Go” also exemplify Goldstein’s uncanny tension-building abilities. They rely on elements that have come to be Lane 8 staples, such as sprawling arpeggios and a simple, yet effective production style that progressively moves the songs along while keeping the listener captivated.
One again aided by Poliça’s vocal abilities, “Shooting Arrows” echos and croons, functioning as one of the darker tracks on the album.
“All the days went dark when you said goodbye,” it laments, “Not a single star shines to tell me why.” The dismal lyrics are disguised behind its bright melody, however, allowing the track to still fit in with Goldstein’s lighthearted theme.
“How Often,” “Howling Hand,” and “The Gift” venture into more progressive territory, which is one way that Brightest Lights differs from Little By Little.
In the past, Lane 8 has attributed some of his success to early support from indietronica duo Odesza and we can sense their influence throughout Brightest Lights. But if the majority of the album is reminiscent of this Big Wild-esque electropop sound, there are three tracks that dare to be different.
The chord progressions on “How Often” are glitchy and erratic, acting as a brilliant contrast to Kauf’s smooth vocals, while “Howling Hand” is dark and brooding. Perhaps the most interesting on the album, however, is the latter: “The Gift.” “To believe, to believe, to believe, to believe,” it chants over and over again, before eventually breaking into a progressive house drop that would hold its own next to deadmau5 or Prydz on any playlist.
“The Rope” is both the final song on the album – save a shorter edit of “Brightest Lights” as a bonus – and the final one with Poliça.
“The Rope” is dreamy and propulsive and probably could have done without the accompaniment of the song’s rather cliche lyrics: “You make me happy and that’s hard to do / I was so damn sad ’til I found you.” Similarly, vocals on “The Flood” seem superfluous, as they do less to add to the track than they do take away from its otherwise stunning instrumentals.
There’s no doubt that Lane 8 has found his groove and formula for success.
Little By Little and Brightest Lights sound similar because, in many ways, they are. Goldstein draws from the same elemental toolbox which he has cultivated and worked towards perfecting since his debut album Rise and he does a damn good job with it. But if “The Gift” is any indication, Goldstein still has some new tricks up his sleeve that we’d love to see more of on his next project.
Brightest Lights – Tracklist:
- Groundhog Day
- Road ft. Arctic Lake
- Brightest Lights ft. Poliça
- Sunday Song
- Shooting Arrows ft. Poliça
- Yard Two Stone ft. Jens Kuross
- The Gift
- How Often ft. Kauf
- Howling Hand
- The Flood ft. Nevve
- Don’t Let Me Go ft. Arctic Lake
- The Rope ft. Poliça
- Brightest Lights – Edit – ft. Poliça