May 1, 2019 The Lotus Eaters’ No Sense of Sin Turns 35
For enthusiasts of what is widely recognized now as New Wave music, to not have No Sense of Sin by The Lotus Eaters in their record collection is certainly a grave sin of omission. Why not, when the album is an epitome of what truly defines the sound of the heartbeat of New Wave—not the type that is abrasive, reactionary, sometimes contrived, and characterized by angry Post-Punk guitars and driving drum patterns. Nor is it the one that is drenched with synthesizers and robotic beats and voices—which is actually originally a result of restlessness and boredom with the Punk Rock of the 1970s.
Instead, the New Wave that The Lotus Eaters came to produce was the kind that is contemplative yet relaxed and which embodied finesse, class, intricacy, eloquence, and romanticism. Its roots may be traced back to similar meticulousness found in the works of many a composers of the illustrious Baroque and Romantic periods of Classical music—genres that continued to make their presence felt in the 1960s, adopting new elements of Pop and Rock and assuming the names Baroque Pop and Art Rock. No Sense of Sin is not just simple Pop. It is neither too ornate but definitely not contrived. While it echoes the sounds of the modern age, it still maintains the sensitivity and sophistication of the Classical of old.
On this trajectory is where the pulse and melodies of The Lotus Eaters’ music was founded. This is why it is often described as classic and timeless, conjuring an imagery of carefully woven threads and laces of strings, piano, keyboards, acoustic and jangly guitars, cascading jazzy bass lines, deeply resonating drum sounds, and breezy choral voices.
The Lotus Eaters was formed in 1982, in Liverpool, England, primarily by Jeremy Kelly (guitars) and Peter Coyle (vocals), and then augmented by Gerard Quinn (keyboards), Alan Wills (drums), and Phil Lucking (bass). Soon afterwards, Michael Dempsey (The Cure, The Associates) and Steve Creese replaced Lucking and Wills, respectively.
Released in May of 1984, on Arista Records, No Sense of Sin was the English band’s immaculate and innocent first and almost-only album. It is a collection of songs that inadvertently paid homage to the beautiful and ornate Classical music of the distant past, expressed in contemporary Pop terms. It opens with the big fan-favorite “German Girl,” whose Chopin-reminiscent piano parts and upbeat tempo exemplify the so-described marriage of Classical and Pop, making it worthier of the term New Romantic. It is followed by the heartbeat charm of “Love Still Flows,” which resonates faint echoes of Eric Satie’s “Gymnnopédie” and Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca;” and then festive confetti explode as the progressively structured “Can You Keep a Secret?” comes marching in—complete with intricate guitar plucks and jangles, rolling bass lines, tribal drum rolls, and big choruses.
“Out on Your Own” pulsates and undulates with its fragile and poignant sentiments. Then there is the haunting “Put Your Touch on Love,” whose piano staccatos, punchy bass, and vocal harmonies betrays a bit of a Gothic predilection. The playful tune of “Too Young” best defines its lyrical sentiments—cheery and carefree. The richly orchestrated ballad “Set Me Apart” serves as the mid-album drama that No Sense of Sin exudes. Another brilliant balladry comes next in the form of “You Fill Me with Need,” expressing a sense of longing and desperation.
Certainly the highlight of The Lotus Eaters’ music that has surely become the theme song of a thousand lovers, “The First Picture of You” is flowing with tears, reminiscence, nostalgia, and youthful summer days. While The Lotus Eaters may sound pristine, “Alone with All Her Sex” gives them that edge of danger and attempt on boldness. The penultimate track, “When You Look at Boys” is pure acoustic bliss; subdued in the beginning, only to unleash its suppressed emotions afterwards, with an epilogue of frenetic guitar strums and timpani-like drum shots that beat like a big heart. Finally, No Sense of Sin ends with the triumphant, sunny, and upbeat “Start of the Search”—aptly closing the album in the same manner it was unwrapped—in celebratory exuberance, but residing beneath is a sense of yearning.
Revisiting No Sense of Sin is not only for the longtime fans and young followers of sophisticated music; it is also for those who have not considered The Lotus Eaters in such New Romantic light. It is your new chance to hear the beauty of the album in a much deeper and more mature perspective.
Relive the pictures of youthful summers and feel again the warmth of the love flowing in your veins. You may not be too young anymore and no longer out on your own. However, your time-wrought musical maturity and never-ending craving for anything romantic will make you delight, with a much more open mind and discerning ears this time, in the precious vintage gems and coils of No Sense of Sin.
So, now, in celebration of the album’s thirty-fifth anniversary, absolve yourself from sin as you rediscover the timeless beauty of The Lotus Eaters’ No Sense of Sin.