This is the album that Lydia always had in them. After two long plays, one extended play and a hiatus short enough to be mistaken for a quick break from the industry, Lydia has finally matured into a group that seems to know exactly what kind of unique sound they want to have showered over their intimate lyrics.

Lydia caught most of their now diehard fans with their second release Illuminate, which showcased just how well the sextet could fuse classical sounds and instruments with modern effects to create this intense but gentle atmosphere of beauty, while combining with Leighton’s fervent words to seal the deal. It showed what they were able to produce if they put in effort, but with their latest release Paint It Golden, it seems as though they don’t even need to try – they can just create amazing pieces with ease.

Paint It Golden just screams out that Lydia didn’t make this album for money, or press, or even to intentionally grab more fans. They made this album because they wanted to. Leighton wanted to keep on telling his stories to anyone who would politely listen, whether it would have been just his neighbours or the entirety of his followers, and that’s one of the many reasons why Lydia has such a loving fan base. Lydia knows how to stay true.

One of the most awe inspiring things with the album is how even though Leighton has created so many songs, all of which tell a different story, he still manages to share unique untold anecdotes through each and every song on this album. Even the opening track “Hailey”, a song which features a recurring character in several of Lydia’s songs, tells a completely different tale of a figure that all of Lydia’s fans have heard about before.

A clear contrast between this release and Lydia’s past work is that Paint It Golden holds happier songs, such as “Best Nights” with the lyrics “All of the best nights, so hurry up, hurry up / Damn this just feels right”. The change of tone in songs like these is like a breath of fresh air, seeing as they were incredibly scarce within Lydia’s previous releases.

The album itself has next to no filler songs. It feels like a listener could fall in love with each piece, if just for a short time. The main single and primary showstopper for the album “Dragging Your Feet in the Mud” is nothing short of an astonishing composition. It’s a song that has lyrics vague enough to leave interpretations open without sacrificing any form of passion for what is being said. The song starts out slow and simple, but throughout its short time it transforms into many different states, taking the listener through all different kinds of feelings.

Paint it Golden emphasises a particular sound – one that is prominent throughout the whole record. Each song reinforces an idea that they wanted to stray completely from a studio created feel, as there’s a lingering impression of nature in the backdrop. Songs like “Skin + Bones” and “Eat Your Heart Out” almost sound like they’ve actually been recorded in some sort of secluded garden. This whole idea of nature as a primary factor within the album all ties together – the animals and woman with trees for hands used as the album’s artwork might not seem so abstract when you pair it with all the aforementioned implementations of the environment.

Overall, Paint It Golden just seems like they’ve taken a piece from everything they’ve released in the past and turned it into a perfect blend of what they’ve come to be. Let’s just hope they keep it for future releases, because it just works so well.

– Tom Gaffney