It is safe to say that Lights of the City burst into the consciousness of the more discerning music fan in a very pleasant and unexpected way. For whilst it seems to echo with many indie and Brit-pop sonic references, it managed to do away with the theatrical swagger and laddish nonchalance that seems to go with such genres and replace them with a real rush of energy, a feeling of euphoria and no small amount of honest and innocence.
As the opening track of the first full-length release, Valdis Stekelis has made under the name Distant Voices, it sets the tone perfectly for an album of songs written about his pre-Covid travels across Europe. But as soon as the more funky pop and clever changes of pace and dynamic which make up Stranger Among Friends follows, you realise that this is going to be an album that plays with any number of moods and styles.
And so it does. I Need A Friend wanders a ragged folk-pop busker route before exploding into a full-on indie-rock riot, Halfway to Rome takes an intricate and slightly staccato approach and Last Night In Amsterdam is a ballad woven from gorgeous sonics and lush, wide-screen swathes of music.
It’s a journey in every sense of the word. One that follows a narrative through a series of memories and musings born of Valdis Stekelis’ travels but also through the various sounds and styles that it employs, from folk to rock to indie and everything in between. In a world where such adventures are yet to resume, you could do a lot worse than use this album as a guide for your own memories and imagination.