Lights Rites

Visual artists that also essay double majors in rock, like Brooklyn, NY's Lights, tend to bring an interestingly bric-a-brac approach to songcraft. Sophia Knapp and Linnea Vedder mix their palette colours with classic rock shades that range from Zeppelin's mushroom folk to Fleetwood Mac's most bittersweet pop. But the key tone on their second album, which features bassist Andy MacLeod as a fulltime member, is Patti Smith. On "Hold On," they channel their art punk godmother's poem song flow and the churning guitar undertow of her more epic tales. Like Smith, or Roy Lichtenstein, or Basquiat, these collisions between pop art and higher concepts are unforced and make excellent grist. How else can you reconcile a post-disco floor filler like "Fire Night" coming back-to-back with a gentle acid folk drifter like "We Belong"? What makes it all work is Knapp and Vedder's impressive instrumental skill, easing back and forth between tom and pedal-mashing overdrive and spaciously moody accents. And if they can handle these sudden shifts surely we can too? (Drag City)