It's Okay They're Only Feelings: Just for Us by Francis and the Lights

It's Okay They're Only Feelings: Just for Us by Francis and the Lights

If you checked out our HMTA’s Best Of 2017 list, you know that I thought “May I Have This Dance” by Francis and the Lights featuring Chance the Rapper was one of the best tracks of 2017. I was nothing short of hyped for his new album, Just For Us. The hit single off his previous album, Farewell, Starlite! was deservedly everywhere, but you may or may not be familiar with the other tracks on his album that are also buzzworthy. If you’re like me, you love his whole discography going back to the late 2000’s. Seriously, go back and listen to the song “Modern Promise” because it’s a jam.

Francis Starlite’s music was the soundtrack to my 2017. I saw him perform during his residency at Public Arts in October and it was one of the most profound performances I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s a cliché of performers having “it,” but I hate clichés and in this case simply stating that he has “it” would be a disservice to the work and art I saw. What makes Francis and the Lights so compelling, especially live, is how much he cares. He’s sweating, dancing and living in it. There’s so much heart in his show that the stage can barely contain it (and in this case it didn’t.) In the middle of the set, Starlite scaled the rafters, climbed into the balcony and danced his way through the venue. He then took a detour to dance on the bar before making his way back to stage. His physicality and intimacy with the audience struck something within me. It was so palpable. These choices made me think about other performances I had seen and what they had lacked. Being a performer is about living the dream, and it’s a life that not many people get the chance to live. But you could tell that Starlite was made for it. He wasn’t going to waste a minute of his performance. At points it was overwhelming how committed he was to this performance, tip-toeing on the line between passion and madness, love and a loss of control. This boundary-pushing made it exciting. His ability to immerse himself so fully in his own performance allows his fans to do the same. The quality of his musical performance and signature dance moves would have been enough, but it was ultimately the passion he showed that made it so much more.

As I waited for Just For Us to drop, I caught myself worrying. Would it be different after his newfound radio success? Would the music’s quality still affect me in the same way? The answer: yes. I am happy to say that I’m officially obsessed with his newest album release. It’s short and sweet at ten tenderly brief songs, perfect for listening to on repeat. Starlite’s impeccable sense of rhythm serves him well in his new collection where he questions the meaning of time and the concept of God. The lyrics are simple and cleanly written, allowing the music between the lines to be a part of the conversation. Just For Us is arguably the best constructed album by Francis and the Lights. With no superfluous material and the impeccable ordering of these ten songs, the album feels like it could be one long opus. There’s a great deal of range from danceable hits to sad almost-ballads with the transitioning between the two styles speaking to the polarizing condition of experiencing human emotions.

So dive in. I hope you love it as much as I do.