As the latest winner of both the Brits Critics Choice Award and the BBC Sound Of 2010 poll, singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding is following in the footsteps of such as Adele and Florence Welch.
But despite the occasional furtive flourish of acoustic guitar, her work on this debut album is more akin to the retro-synthpop of Little Boots and La Roux, thanks to the thoroughness with which production partner Fin Dow-Smith has smothered her folkie origins under a welter of busily cycling synths and programmed beats. It lends a certain irony to her reproachful plaint to an unresponsive lover in "The Writer": "Why don't you be the artist, and make me out of clay/Why don't you be the writer, and decide the words I say?". Much of Lights is infused with similar issues of self-esteem and infatuation, transformed by the electropop arrangements from folksy introspection to mechanical expressions of emotional turmoil. But her lyrical fascination for stellar metaphors – with phrases like "everybody's starry-eyed", "I see your face in every star" – provides a link of sorts between her folk and synth-pop sides. The layers of vocal counterpoints in "Starry Eyed" confirm Goulding's singing ability, but it's debatable whether it's shown to best advantage here.
Download this Starry Eyed; The Writer; I'll Hold My Breath