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A soundtrack and story of Lights' 'Skin & Earth' [Album Review]

It's an art and craft to produce the perfect soundtrack for a film or TV series. A collation of tone, variety, melodic grandeur and lyrical importance can make a scene or spoil a setting. Some of my favourite songs can come from standout soundtracks. And some songs can be a redeemer from the worst excuses of films ('Twilight' soundtracks were the only worthwhile thing from the movie trilogy).

I can't tell you of any comic book series that has its own soundtrack like Lights' Skin&Earth album and comic. But her album paints the mood to her self-made comic series, with songs that both supplement the graphics and stand out on its own.

Like Beyonce channelled Sasha Fierce, Lights embodies the red-headed En. A fiery, ketchup-maned outcast, she lives in a dystopian world divided by the elite, inhabiting a house at the brink of a toxic wasteland. That's all I can tell you about the comic as I haven't read any further than the first free section of issue #1 myself, but travel into the world of Madison Oasis and read about a land more desolate and dysfunctional than our own.

In terms of the album, the songs are a perfect balance between badassery and romantic drama that the track arrangement could breathe as its own storyline. It begins with the plot kicker of second song 'Skydiving'. Singing about the risks that come diving headfirst into romance, the melody will freefall you into a bed of falling vocal notes, repeatedly rolling you down the octave.

The anger and conflict sit in the hard-fisted track 'Savage'. Ruled by its boastful, chest-beating drumming and strong electric guitar, Lights belts out the savagery of a man she once trusted. "In a flash flood of cruelty, you washed the ground out from under me". As seen in her music video, many of the lyrics appear straight from the comic's story, bringing to life the fire of emotions.

The moment of vulnerability creeps into slow track 6, 'Morphine'. Almost reminiscent of Lights early music with its gentle keys and soft-spoken vocals, it gives a breathy change of pace to the punchy album. One of my clear favourites.

The most unique sounding track is, of course, the lead single, 'Giants'. An anthem defined by its changing beat between verse and chorus, it's enthused vocal encouraging us that we too "could be giants" has an emphatic drum beat that could be enough to encourage any ketchup-coloured head to "rise up" and fight the status quo.

However, two final tracks of the album can't be glossed over. Every storyline has a big fight or conflict, and in the well-titled 'Fight Club', it brings the "heavy" in catchy pop beats and light keyboard notes. With Lights' staccato breathing through the chorus, it is almost like she's in a boxing ring punching this song out.

And of course, every story needs a climactic resolution, which sits perfectly with 'Almost Had Me'. A strong electric melody, with a chorus that really strikes me; "I was a knife in the gunfight... you were a wolf in the daylight, and you almost had me." It's an eloquent closing song that rises and soars, playing as if the credits are rolling in your head to this heroine's story told in 14 songs.

The Skin&Earth album is a tidy collection of songs, following a narrative that covers love, risk, conflict and resolution. The arrangement of songs has the balance to be delicate and strong in all the right places. And ultimately, it feels like an album that ticks all the boxes. I only hope the comic is as polished as the album.

Stand out tracks: Savage, Morphine, Fight Club, Almost Had Me

For people who like: Ellie Goulding, gaming references in pop culture

Update: so I ended up buying the Skin & Earth comics that have been released so far (currently up to issue #4 of six). Totally brings another aesthetic to reading as each chapter aligns itself with each song. And it gives a new meaning to all the songs on her album that you wouldn't think of when you first listen to them. Truly a soundtrack that provides a multi-medium experience.

[Image: screenshot from Giants - Lights]

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