Witnessing the rebirth of a star
Stars are born every day. It is rare, however, for stars to be reborn. The release of "Only Yesterday" by Pretty Lights is one of these rare moments, folks. After a three year hiatus, Pretty Lights, otherwise known as Derek Vincent Smith, has come back with a vengeance. Although it is a calm, smooth, spiritual vengeance, it is vengeance nonetheless. Perhaps an attack on Smith's former self and Pretty Lights' former style and image, "Only Yesterday" is the tip of the spear that is the new direction the Denver native is taking in his music and his life. Rather than relying on his unquestioned talent for composing largely original material, this track toys with Smith's uncanny ability to mix samples. The loop-heavy song has a slightly more light-hearted and dreamy feel than much of Pretty Lights' previous music, perhaps signaling his shift in his attitude towards life and music.
Respecting the creative process and the merit of developed progression, "Only Yesterday" takes a full minute to ramp up to the meat of the song, but when it gets there, it packs a pleasant, gentle punch. Distant, echoing vocals that lyrically broach the subject of looking back on one’s life and struggling to define oneself are layered over purposefully lazy guitar riffs, hints of glockenspiel, and tastefully simple drum kit percussion with a smidge of tambourine. The dreamy, nature-laden video released with this song truly brings out the nostalgic nature of "Only Yesterday" and its central message of a desire to forge meaningful connection with those around you. Having already pioneered the electro-soul genre, "Only Yesterday" is the beginning of a new path for Pretty Lights. It seems unlikely that Smith himself even knows where he is going, but we all look forward to forging ahead on this journey with him and seeing where the wind takes us.