One year since German alt-pop songstress Kim Petras released “Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1,” an EP that drew inspiration from the holiday of Halloween, Petras has altered the concept by adding nine more tracks to the EP, fleshing out the premise to its logical and indulgent end — a full Halloween album titled “Turn Off the Light.”
All eight tracks from the original EP make up the second half of the album, but the album features a new closer track, “Everybody Dies”. Petras has given “Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1” a more all-encompassing sound by connecting concepts explored on her EP with more material.
The new songs mostly help Petras expand on the EP’s original eight tracks by spending more time creating the dark Halloween universe that exists on “Turn Off the Light.” For example, “Death by Sex” highlights Petras’ experimental side, which has become more prominent in her recent work. Petras uses beats with more distorted audio and alters the capacity of her own voice with pitching and autotune, pushing her music to an exciting and edgy space that fits her subject matter.
Lyrically, Petras’ familiar, opulent bubblegum pop flair and playfulness that place her in the same genre as fellow alt-pop singer and frequent collaborator Charli XCX are still present, even when singing haunting and extravagant lines like “Give you the face, serve you the body (Body) / Skinniest waist, you’re gonna love it (Yeah) / You’ll be missin’ me in the afterlife / Tonight’s gonna be the night of your life / You’re never, never gonna make it out alive” on “Death by Sex.” Even on a Halloween album, Petras still centers her own sound and keeps fans of her usual music entranced.
Petras transforms her album’s spooky theme from an emotional experience to a religious one; for her, the macabre becomes the sacred. Her songs take the holiday seriously, and Petras manages to examine each aspect of what Halloween can mean to an older audience obsessed with all things grim.
“Bloody Valentine” highlights how Petras can take simple phrases and still create a cohesive track. However, the lyrics lack complexity — it is just Petras’ voice heavily pitched down, repeating the phrase “My Bloody Valentine / You’re out of time” — but the repetition compounds the phrase and turns it into a blood-chilling chant. The heavy production and synth backed beat add to the scare value but, more importantly, turn it into an electrifying club song. Its pop quality and ominous message make it a perfect track for a Halloween dance party.
Adding more context by turning the EP into an album helps enhance certain tracks, like “Turn Off The Light” (ft. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark). Much of the original EP consists of ambient tracks without lyrics, and the added tracks help build a story off the EP’s thematic framework.
In “Turn Off The Light,” Elvira, Mistress of the Dark’s haunting phrase, “Only in the darkness will you find your true self / Howl at the moon to awaken the spell / One cannot judge what the eye cannot see / Outside the realm of humanity / Embrace your fear, don’t dare to run / Only then will you be what you’re meant to become,” makes more sense after a series of tracks that develop the album’s concept instead of just jumping directly into Elvira’s call to action.
However, some of the new tracks could have been more developed to make them exciting and coherent. The song “Massacre,” for instance, subtly plays with the melody of “Carol of the Bells.” The incorporation of a Christmas classic does not immediately make the Halloween album sound like a gimmick that simply parodies the Christmas genre.
The “Carol of the Bells” reference could have served to further push the subversive fun and irreverence found throughout the album if it had been expanded upon and made more prominent on the track. If the melody of “Carol of the Bells” was more persistent, “Massacre” could have been a haunted take on a Christmas standard; instead, it comes off as a ploy to connect two disjointed concepts.
Petras’ album feels like a ride with a witch on a hot pink, sparkling broomstick en route to a crowded club; hard synth beats and the dark lyrics drive the entire album. Although jams like “Monster Mash,” “Thriller” and “Spooky Scary Skeletons” are Halloween classics, Petras has made new and more mature Halloween music that transports the season to its darkest extremes and captures the freedom inherent in a night where monsters can roam.