Beware of Safety ~ Lotusville

LotusvilleA double LP, one pink and one purple, Lotusville brings joy to both the eyes and ears.  This bright explosion symbolizes “the true Los Angeles”, the city that wakes up when the rest of the city goes to sleep.  Beware of Safety refers to this as the time between first sleep and second sleep, an old concept given new clothes.  Tracks by these names bracket the album: a gentle glockenspiel tune to open, a sweet acoustic guitar piece to close.

Before electricity was invented, people went to bed after the sun went down, but awoke around midnight for sex and conversation before returning to their slumbers.  Today, the general populace ends most pursuits before midnight.  But after the movie theaters and restaurants close and prime time TV gives way to talk shows, a smaller, stalwart number parties, paints, roams.

The guitar that opens “Wash Ashore in Pieces” sounds like an emergency vehicle backing up, time reversing, casting liveliness where drowsiness is expected.  Soon the other guitars join in, producing a clean, melodic sound, one that the quintet has been perfecting over the course of seven years and four records.  This is the longest span between albums, a sign that the band has been taking the time to get it right, best demonstrated by the “wraparound” nature of the album, the final notes folding back into the first like day into night into day.

The city may be coming to life, but it is also dangerous, as indicated by the track titles: “Bullet”, “Trigger Finger”, “To Be Curious Is Dangerous Enough”.  But look again at the band’s name.  To be wary of safety is to question the appeal of placidity.  Yes, it’s nice to be safe all the time, but it’s also boring.  And that’s certainly not what this band is about.

While Beware of Safety has always been known for its rock, Lotusville also benefits from a generous use of dynamic contrast.  The acoustic ending of “Bullet” is completely unexpected, but makes sense when one realizes that it closes the first side of the album.  The same goes for the ambient beginning of “Trigger Finger”, which opens the second; and the piano of “Icarus”, which opens the third.  Every drum beat and melodic riff is amplified in relief.  Different sounds stand out on different tracks: the telegraph embedded in “Iron Ribs”, the siren-like wail that precedes the early metal riffs in “Stare Down Orion”.  But the ten-minute “The Fever” is the album highlight, including banjo and wheezes of sleep.  In this piece, the album’s theme is underlined.  The morning sun has risen; it’s time to catch some winks.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  7 October

Available here

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