Striving to be more than a cult band, the Bangles ratcheted up the commercial quotient of their sound on 1986’s Different Light. Under producer David Kahne’s guidance, synthesizers filled in the spaces between the guitars and the tracks took on a glossier sheen overall. This strategy had its risks but fortunately the group’s impeccable vocal harmonies never sounded better. Even more important, the songs range from strong to excellent. Radio listeners became Bangles fans thanks to the baroque-tinged “Manic Monday” (written by Prince) and the odd-yet-danceable “Walk Like An Egyptian.” Beyond these hits, there’s a wealth of other folk-rock standouts to be found here, with “September Gurls” and the absolutely luminous “If She Knew What She Wants” worth a special mention. Band originals like the jazz-tinged “Return Post” and the sweetly empathetic “Not Like You” compliment the covers. Different Light boosted the profile of Susanna Hoffs in particular, but the rest of the group deserves equal praise. Amidst the cooled-out techno-pop of its time, Different Light shines brightly as a warm-hearted, unremittingly melodic gem of an album.