Artist: St. Lucia

Album: When The Night

Release Date: October 8, 2013 (Columbia/Neon Gold)

Buzz Factor: 4/5

St. Lucia’s first full-length album When the Night confirms my belief that the South African music scene is where it’s at. South African-born Jean Philip Grobler is the mastermind behind the Brooklyn-based electro-pop project. Like other recent releases from South African artists such as Die Antwoord and Sibot, this album dramatically stands out from its electronic counterparts.

Just like the Caribbean island for which the project is named for, St. Lucia’s album is upbeat and summery. With pounding drums and soulful sax riffs, it has a New Wave feel that would be a perfect soundtrack for the end of 80s drama. “The Way You Remember Me” would fit nicely during that self-discovery moment that occurs in the last ten minutes of almost every John Hughes movie.

In addition to its nostalgic vibe, what makes When the Night so unique is the complexity of tracks. It seems that Grobler crafted them meticulously from the inside out. All of the elements from the rhythms to the synth beats to the vocals were carefully layered on top of each other to create powerful and irresistible dance ballads.

The single “Elevate” is the standout track of the dreamy first half of the album. It features lovely harmonies with touring member Patricia Beranek. “Closer than This” marks the album’s shift from a synth-pop reverie to a pulsing club record. Other notable tracks include “September,” one of the darker, rock-influenced songs on the album. There’s also the dynamic track “Too Close,” a seven-minute jam that drifts easily between tranquility and turbulence.

In an industry saturated with subpar electronic, pop, and every combination of the two, St. Lucia produces something admirable. Grobler’s stellar voice and obvious attention to detail gives us an electro-pop album that’s more than just catchy hook and some laser sounds. St. Lucia is one of the few artists of the genre that’s doing it right.

I cannot believe I overlooked St. Lucia at Lollapalooza this past summer since the show would’ve undoubtedly been a joyous, dance-heavy occasion. Feel free to judge this album by its cover: When the Night is just as compelling as the cover art suggests.

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