Our favorites, Lotus, have released an album that treats us to yet another facet of the constant development of their sound. While it may not be as experimental as “Monks,” or as poppy as “Build,” the emotion they’ve captured in “Gilded Age” segues nicely from their 2013 releases. At the time, “Build” and “Monks” both seemed to mark a turning point in Lotus’ sound, shying away from the American rock vibe by gearing their focus towards the electronica aspect of the band. With these albums, I lost touch with what I knew to be the “original” Lotus vibe, which had more space and created a relaxed atmosphere in which their jams were extremely prominent. “Monks” was something almost completely new — reworked Lotus tracks were the basis of the album, over which featured hip hop artists like Ras Arcane and Doodlebug seamlessly delivered fresh lyricism. These tracks were punctuated with funky interludes that told the story of a journey to enlightenment. “Tune in. Drop out. Drink up.” Earlier in the year, “Build” had been released, and I do admit, it wasn’t my favorite Lotus album. It got me nervous that we would be getting more and more of the “EDM” feel from them, losing their rock n roll vibe, and focusing on popular aspects of electronic music, rather than focusing on the jams. Not to say they didn’t play out the tracks in a live setting—they absolutely did, and in different ways from before (something that stands out to me is one of Jesse’s synth solo at their 12/30/13 show during “Middle Road”). I guess I’m speaking more from an “in-studio” aspect when I say this album made me a little nervous because live Lotus has yet to let me down.
Now, I’m realizing I was wrong to think those albums were a turning point in their sound. I just had to wait patiently, and upon the release of “Gilded Age,” I feel that this album is the real turning point. As I said, “Build” and “Monks” seem experimental—albums to have fun with, to push their boundaries, and develop their skills. Now, I feel like Lotus is sort of returning to their roots, giving themselves much more breathing room for improvisation, while clearly still being influenced by where the last two years have taken their sound. With this album, they find balance, and their delivery is so smooth. I think I like the execution of this album so much because of the way they recorded it—live to analog tape, so it has the feeling of them playing right in front of you.