Wednesday, April 29th 2009
Reviews: Bat For Lashes
Bat For Lashes, aka Natasha Khan, has gone a bit Sasha Fierce for her second album Two Suns, the follow-up to her beautifully shamanic 2006 debut Fur And Gold. Pearl is a destructive blonde femme fatale who represents Natasha Khan’s “extreme nature,” or some such nonsense. We’re no humbugs about alter egos here at Antiquiet, but following in Beyoncé’s batty footsteps is a bold thing to attempt.
Thankfully, the similarities end there. Whatever alternate personality Khan’s conjured to put together Two Suns is clearly worth the lunacy. It’s a beautiful movement, a complex, artistic high note for an artist we look forward to watching blossom even further as an artist.
The ethereal vapors and cascading keys of opener Glass are immediately gripping, and by the gorgeous, scaled chorus it’s clear that Khan has found a new level of place and sound in her development as an artist. Her vocals are at times starkly reminiscent of Björk, and other times Kate Bush, but she makes every note her own through a powerful, nearly operatic delivery over stark, Yeasayer-provided beats that jolt through the organ mist like hammers on pavement.
Mysticism runs parallel to themes of love and loss, coupled with Goldfrapp-esque soundscapes and pulsating, magnetic beats that are like mini time machines. The album’s press release resembles a mystic gypsy fairytale more than a one-sheet about this weird little peacock’s unique abilities, and that’s a shame, because it’s exactly why I’d put off giving this album a chance until now. But I couldn’t escape the gravity of leading single and album highlight Daniel, a Fleetwood-soaked tale of lost love that may or may not be an ode to the teenage protagonist in The Karate Kid. Regardless, the song’s beauty is undiminished, and the arresting poetry of the lyrics are redemption in motion- even if the song leaves me wanting to listen to These Dreams by Heart.
Peace Of Mind begins as a pensive walk through a jungly, semi-acoustic haze, graced with a gay gospel choir to create a beautiful- yet oddly unsettling- piece. Through the verses, with good speakers, it seems as if Natasha’s actually in the room with you, near enough to feel her breath. It’s a powerful piece of production. There’s something oddly reminiscent of a Puscifer-era Maynard Keenan in the way she moans the song’s title over and over, as the gospel rises with her, as does the pace, and just as the congregation turns fully kinetic the song vanishes into thin air.
Khan walks with the piano phrases at the onset of Siren Song, delicate, Amos-inspired and achingly beautiful as she asks to stay for a while, making offers no man could help but fall for.
Are you my family? Can I stay with you a while? Can I stop off in your bed tonight? I could make you smile…
In the morning i’ll make you breakfast / In the evening I’ll warm the bed. / And I’ll always be happy to kiss you / promise I’ll never get sad.
But of course there’s a catch, and it rises like a phoenix, at which point Natasha becomes Pearl, and never quite returns.
Till the siren come calling, calling / it’s driving me evil, evil / I was a heartbreaker / I loved you the same way I do / But I’ve got so much wickedness and sin / My name is Pearl, and I’ll love you the best way I know how / My blonde curls slice through your heart.
Two Suns is a 45 minute burst of potential beautifully realized. Like a girl after our indie-sucker hearts, she handles everything from songwriting to designing her website’s T-shirts, and her vision is as unique and appealing as it is, well, weird. Her range is fantastic, her creativity apparently without bounds. Everything is secondary to the music, and for that we commend her.
02. Sleep Alone
03. Moon And Moon
05. Peace Of Mind
06. Siren Song
07. Pearl’s Dream
08. Good Love
09. Two Planets
10. Travelling Woman
11. The Big Sleep
P.S. Natasha also does a mean Kings of Leon cover- check it out here.