Ellie Goulding Sparkles on Lights

Ellie Goulding's debut, Lights, was released in the UK nearly two years ago, where it met mostly positive reviews and chart success. However, the album is just beginning to make ground in the US, the title track debuting on the VH1 Top Twenty Video Countdown this week.

"Lights" is actually a good representation of the record as whole (which has had a few tracks added for its North American release); the song discusses the ups and downs of relationships, amidst the glitter of dance beats and other electronic frills. Goulding was initially touted as a new star who mixed "folk music" with dance. This description is a little misleading. Goulding does have introspective tendencies, but, more accurately, she has a knack for crafting catchy and thoughtful pop songs about love; she is a bit more Carole King than Joni Mitchell--that is, more interested in hooks and boiling down her experience to find its universal sentiments. In fact, many of her songs fit the "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" model to the tee, especially the standout, "Under the Sheets."

All in all, Lights is not a game-changer. However, it is a charming, cohesive, meticulously produced album about a beautiful woman in her twenties trying to sort out her love and sex life. Goulding's magic is her songwriting skills, and she is worth listening to for those chops alone. While so many pop stars are trying to out-weird each other, Ellie Goulding seems interested in making good straight-up pop music, and kudos to her.

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