Our Take: Francis and the Lights Ushers in the New Year with Something ‘Just for Us’

Just for Us - Francis and the Lights

Sara's Take

Francis and the Lights eases listeners into the new year with ‘Just for Us’, an intimate album centered on love, loss and time.

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Blessed with the gift of storytelling, Francis Farewell Starlite’s musical project Francis and the Lights has that rare ability to both energize you and bring you to your feet, or hit you hard and bring you to your knees. He’s known best for his high-intensity dancing, having been brought into the spotlight through his collaborations with Chance the Rapper, but has a lot more to give to those who are willing to sit patiently and listen.

While Francis and the Lights’ short (but already extensive) discography contains many beautiful ballads, his high-energy tracks also contain more than what’s heard on the surface. We see this in songs like last year’s remix of “May I Have This Dance” with Chance the Rapper: Beneath the uptempo beat and infectiously warm melody is a song about wanting a second chance with someone you love and working through and confronting the problems you have with commitment. Francis and the Lights is an artist who handles the complexities of life well, his music often ranging back and forth between the lighthearted and the heavy.

That being said, we were thrilled to have a new Francis and the Lights album to sink our teeth into as we headed into the New Year.

Listen: ‘Just for Us’ – Francis and the Lights

Independently released December 29 through KTTF Music, Just for Us is a ten-track, 26-minute record. In true Francis and the Lights fashion, the album works through love, loss and feelings of helplessness in an ’80s-esque pop fashion. An album centered on relationships (and the intricacies therein), it’s a perfect gift for these days of transition between 2017 and 2018. Just for Us provides a fitting soundtrack as everyone sets their goals for the new year and takes time out to reflect and introspect on relationships and more.

The album’s introductory track “Morning” is upbeat and simplistic-the song’s intro sounding like something off Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. With mornings come fresh starts, a sentiment echoed in the opener’s lyrics:

Never thought I’d see the light again
I got something I can see again
I think I can finally breathe again
I got something to believe in

Happy and sad all at the same time, this song perfectly details the emotions felt at the end of a long and tumultuous road. Again, for those who may have had a tougher-than-usual 2017, this song serves as a near-perfect symbol for moving on into a new year – with new goals, hopes, and dreams to aspire to.

Francis and the Lights © Tumblr
Francis and the Lights © Tumblr

“Just for Us” keeps the energy flowing. The song’s opening lyrics, “If someone wants to take you home, don’t let them,” feel pleading. But as the song continues, the tone shifts back and forth. While some lyrics feel like pleading words from an old lover, others feel like words of advice from a close friend.

Even when you’re on your own,
Everyone’s watching
Even though I’m not alone,
You’re still next to me

The song seems obviously meant for one listener, but there’s something about it that feels familiar: It’s easy to listen to “Just for Us” and think about your own special someone, a quality that only adds to Starlight’s talents. While he writes about and sings intimate details from his own life, he can still remain relatable.

Just for Us - Francis and the Lights
Just for Us – Francis and the Lights

“Faithful” brings the listener down to earth, and down to their knees. A ballad featuring Francis and a piano, it again tackles those fears of commitment:

With all the others,
Didn’t know what to do
But I could be faithful to you
I thought of faith as something I can’t do
But I could be faithful to you

Beautiful and raw, this song says it all.

“Back in Time,” “Tear it Up” and “Scream so Loud” bring the energy back to Just for Us. Both “Back in Time” and “Tear it Up” introduce themes that will be resurfaced again on the album’s final two tracks, these themes being the idea that you can’t go back in time, and images of Francis driving around with someone, possibly an old lover.

“I Won’t Lie to You” is a short track and brings the listener back down for the album’s eighth track, “Breaking Up.”

“Breaking Up” is another of my favorites from the album and was the first I listened to. I had seen Rostam post an Instagram story about the song and immediately rushed to listen. Again, this song is short, sweet and to the point, but has depth for those who are willing to listen for it. The song’s title seems to be a play on words, the song talking about a breakup of two people and the breaking up of a phone connection.

I can’t hear you, we’re breaking up
Did you say it’s over?
I can’t hear you, we’re breaking up
Did you say you were coming over?

As previously mentioned, “Never Back” and “Cruise” seem to be continuations of themes already discussed on the album. This recap works perfectly, wrapping the album up in a pretty little bow while bringing us back to the beginning.

Francis and the Lights © Tumblr
Francis and the Lights © Tumblr

Francis and the Lights has stunned yet again with an album we can sit with as we reflect on the year behind us and the new one ahead. But, like Francis and the Lights says, “No, you’ll never go back in time…and you can’t see the future.” For those struggling with this transition, we suggest giving Francis and the Lights a chance to speak to you. You might be surprised at what you’ll find – remember: This album is Just for Us.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Just for Us - Francis and the Lights

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