“For Days” – Francis and the Lights
Francis & The Lights is Drake’s slow song secret weapon. Track 2 of Thank Me Later stands as proof. The little-known NYC band, led by Berkeley-bred “Francis Farewell Starlite” (who has a voice that lands him sonically between the lines of Adam Levine and Phil Collins), creates lush synth-laden compositions worthy of Human League. The fact that Drake is a fan and has commissioned them to open for him on tour speaks volumes to both artists’ versatility. Francis’ Cantora Records debut, It’ll Be Better, positions them as something of a second coming of Spandau Ballet, Peter Gabriel, or ABC. With the kind of sheeny pop songwriting Hall & Oates once pioneered, F&TL appeals to even the most discriminating ear with their self-proclaimed obsession with simplicity. Their most inspiring read? Strunk and White’s Elements of Style – which eased them into “doing things simply and omitting the needless.” (Village Voice, Feb 25 2009) If Private donned fancier rhythms and kicks than once before, Francis simplifies those 80’s eccentricities in their refusal to be categorized. Perhaps this is the reason for Kanye and Drake‘s devotion: just as “Darling, It’s Alright” is Bryan Ferry, “Going Out” (especially it’s opening few bars) is as much KCi & JoJo. You can stream their entire album here.