On her debut album Power, Lotic started incorporating lyrics into her work, distorted, repetitive lines that bounced off the rhythm section. Water presents a totally different angle, centring expansive, flowing melodies and more conventional structures while eschewing some of the sonic invention that has characterised her work to date. The results are decidedly Björk-esque, playing on a conflict between soft and hard elements.
Emergency’s hook displays an admirable lack of tact (“Emergency / please fuck me”) over syncopated Baltimore bass hits and swirling motifs, while Always You buries graceful harp figures in a noisy backdrop. Throughout Water Lotic’s voice is delicate, sometimes fragile, floating above arrangements that are frequently chaotic, and on tracks like Come Unto Me the formula works well.
The problem is that Lotic is not playing to her strengths. Tracks that could have been very interesting sonically are stifled by lacklustre song ideas, and a more even balance could have been struck between these two pillars. A Plea’s rapid ostinato is infectious, the clicking percussion is intriguing, but the vocal performance often seems to ignore its backing altogether, too fixated on limp platitudes about rejection.
On Diamond, however, all is forgiven. A build-up of ornate plucks gives way to a snarling synth lead, a perfectly climactic musical moment, with the lyrical metaphor of extreme pressure reflected in this tension and release dynamic. The track feels anthemic, ambitious, and if all of the songs on Water melded their elements so naturally the album would be a triumph.
It is entirely possible that Lotic just needs some more time to develop her singing style, and gaining more vocal dexterity could go a long way to improving the sound of her songs. As it stands Water is a transition record, signalling a direction of travel but inconsistent and frustrating.