Lotus Plaza

The Floodlight Collective

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Lotus Plaza's The Floodlight Collective will sound familiar -- in the comfortable, welcoming way, not the contempt-breeding one -- to a lot of listeners. Diehard Deerhunter fans heard many of these songs from the group's guitarist/vocalist Lockett Pundt via the band's website, and in a lot of ways, this album underscores exactly why Pundt works so well in Deerhunter (he contributed some of Microcastle's finest songs). Lotus Plaza's approach is certainly simpatico with Pundt's other band -- he piles layer upon layer of interesting sounds on top of sweet, surprisingly simple melodies -- but The Floodlight Collective falls somewhere between the more aggressive experimentalism of Cryptograms and Microcastle's subversive pop while carving out its own territory. Though the album plays like one beautiful 44-minute trip, the influences that bubble to the surface are well-known but used in unique ways: "Quicksand"'s warm, rolling rhythm section is pure Motown, topped by jangly guitars and joyous synths, all bathed in a lysergic haze, while "What Grows?" is a '60s psych rock/'90s dream pop hybrid, part Strawberry Alarm Clock and part My Bloody Valentine. Over the course of the album, Pundt covers the spectrum of maximalist pop, striking abstract pieces, and almost every nuance in between: he anchors the impressionistic beauty of tracks like "These Years," a droning, sparkling interlude that suggests a frost-covered early morning, with more structured songs such as "Red Oak Way," The Floodlight Collective's glorious album opener and a reasonable facsimile of what a collaboration between Phil Spector and Kevin Shields would sound like. That goes double for "Different Mirrors," a gorgeous blur of swooping guitars, seemingly wordless vocals, and wintry sleigh bells that carries on dream pop's remarkable ability to capture huge emotions with massive swaths of sound. As The Floodlight Collective unfolds, it gets increasingly expansive and hypnotic, building from "Whiteout"'s snowdrifts and eddies of guitars and delicately frazzled electronics to the seven-minute epic "Antoine," which boasts pianos that stretch out to infinity and a beat that surfaces out of nowhere and carries the song to its conclusion, but never brings it back down to earth. The album touches down briefly as it ends with "A Threaded Needle," then goes back into the stratosphere with oddly yearning choruses that feel like they never end. Accessible and elusive at the same time, The Floodlight Collective is an addictive debut.

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