The album cover of Lotus sees Christina Aguilera, emerging from a baby-pink lotus, naked and glowing in the stance that is more than reminiscent of Venus in Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. After a distinctly unsuccessful last album, Bionic(have you heard of it? No, we'd completely forgotten about it too), Lotus is undoubtedly a bit of 'rebirth' attempt for Aguilera.
We really want to love Lotus. We love Christina, both Back to Basics and Stripped were albums that defined a generation, with lyrics that engaged women's sexual autonomy, and a voice that lends itself to songs made for the dancefloor ('Dirty') as well as heartbreaking narrative numbers, such as 'Beautiful'. Who hasn't cried at that video? So, yes, we want to utterly adore Lotus, but we just can't. It's good, it's not terrible, but Aguilera seems to be stagnating rather than rising again in this new album. Despite being distinctly 'Christina', she hasn't pushed borders, the boundaries are miles away and she's trapped right inside.
One of the real lowpoints is 'Shutup', an unattractively simplistic and overly worked track. However, highlights include her collaboration with fellow The Voice coach Cee Lo Green in 'Make the World Move'. The subtle beauty of 'Blank Page', which doesn't quite hit the high marks that 'Beautiful' attained, is nevertheless gorgeous. 'Empty Words' is another great track, and somewhat relevant to the latest criticism she's been getting: "Go ahead and say the things you gotta say / You know you're only throwing empty words my way." Despite not loving Lotus we certainly like it, and it's more than worth a listen. When Aguilera lets her song writing and voice shine through, it's a great record, but when synth takes over, all her charm is lost.