For fans only.

Expectation: Despite their title, Francis and the Lights is a musical project belonging solely to one person; however, that one person, Francis Farewell Starlite, would disagree, as he claims the group has no “members” at all, but is composed of “himself and anyone else involved. Including you.” Following four EP’s released over seven years and multiple huge cosigns from artists such as Drake, Bon Iver, and Chance the Rapper, Mr. Francis Farewell Starlite’s debut album is finally here.

TRACK-BY-TRACK

  • See Her Out (That’s Just Life) –  The intro is an awkward build up that doesn’t really “build” at all, but the verses are kind of nice and the synth break near the end is fun, though brief.
  • Comeback – Contrary to the fine-tuned synths and vocoder work, Francis’s vocals sound rushed or unfinished in the mix, as if the balance level was meant to accommodate more harmonies or at least doubled vocals. The end result is an entirely underwhelming track.
  • Can’t Stay Party – If a song can be top heavy, then song is the perfect example. There is tons going on in the upper register, but the low end is strangely quiet in comparison, and the entire song lacks a backbone to support it.
  • I Want You to Shake – No one but Francis will dance to this.
  • May I Have This Dance – Blatant Phil Collins worship isn’t a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t save this track.
  • My City’s Gone – This. Francis needs to focus on this. The melody fits his voice, the tempo is just right for his slow builds, and the track actually goes somewhere.
  • Running Man / Gospel OP1 – Because its weird does not mean its good. The crazy vocal distortions were interesting, but felt completely out of place.
  • It’s Alright to Cry – Kind of a cool track, even if its still somewhat directionless. When Francis focuses doing cool things with vocals, he can make some pretty interesting stuff.
  • Friends – An decent track, but still strangely empty. The elements of a good song are there, but that all, they’re just… there. They don’t do anything or go anywhere. In the first minute, you feel like you’ve heard the whole song.
  • Thank You – I was ready to tune this one out as an outro track, but Francis showed unexpected life right at the end. I was so shocked that I looked up the lyrics to read through them again…. to find that they were written by Chance the Rapper. I don’t  have a problem with artists helping each other with their lyrics, especially if they’re open about giving credit where its due, but that was just… disappointing.

Overall: Francis Farewell Starlite is an artist of flourishes and detailed nuance. At this point in his career, he is not a talented songwriter. Most of the songs on this project felt like disparate ideas haphazardly grouped together, lacking an overall direction. The one time on the album that Francis builds, the payoff is HUGE, and the fact that a solo track was better than his Bon Iver collaboration says a lot about Francis’s potential. However, until Francis can focus and hone his songwriting abilities, no amount of bells and whistles (or synths and vocoders) can cover for a song that is lackluster at its core.

Score: 4/10

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