Bat For Lashes: The Haunted Man

Bat For Lashes‘ third album, The Haunted Man, is quite different from her previous releases. The tribal drums and dark drama that first brought our attention to Natasha Khan’s alter ego have been replaced with atmospheric electronics and somber melodies. Even Natasha’s voice sounds different, at times straining to reach an angelic soprano level when we know her natural tone is a smokey alto. And yet somehow…it works, it gets under your skin. My feelings about the album are strongly mixed between my initial, unavoidable disappointment when comparing it to her past and unshakable, irresistable respect for her extraordinary creativity.

The Haunted Man opens with the expansive, cinematic “Lilies.” The song seemed overly long the first time around, but I like it more with each listen. It has an almost hypnotic effect. One of the most capitivating moments on the album comes when Natasha breathes “Thank God I’m alive” just before the song’s horn-driven orchestral finale.

The darkly quirky electro-pop numbers “All Your Gold” and “Marilyn” hark back to 1980s-era Kate Bush and/or Peter Gabriel.

Sadly, it seems no amount of repeated listens will make “Horses of the Sun” anything but irksome to me.

“Oh Yeah,” however, is rhythmic and interesting. I do wish the piano flourish at the end was audible throughout, but better late than never.

The stunningly pure and beautiful ballad “Laura,” which I first posted back in July, is by far the standout track and outshines the rest of the album. Brimming with all the emotions of a lifetime of regret and a heart full of love, “Laura” remains one of the most exquisite songs of the year.

The sparse, string-accented “Winter Fields” in particular conjures the ethereal spectar of Kate Bush. Winter Fields may have been a more apt title for this cool and spacious piece of art.

Inspired by the Irish “troubles,” the title track features a chilling interlude of militant drums and male vocals which were shouted and recorded over a canyon.

The rest of the album blurs and blends together, sometimes gorgeously, sometimes unremarkably. Had Bat For Lashes not been by a favorite artist of mine, I wouldn’t have tried so hard to like the album and must admit I wanted to like it more than I actually did at first. However, it’s turned out to be a grower like Kate Bush’s 50 Words for Snow and Fiona Applie’s The Idler Wheel. The Haunted Man is a very pretty and innovative collection.

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Bat For Lashes Official Site

Bat For Lashes: New Album & Song!

She’s back! The exquisitely talented Bat For Lashes (a.k.a. Natasha Khan) will return with her new album, The Haunted Man, on October 23rd. As we wait with bated breath, you can listen to and watch the video for the first single, “Laura,” below. The piano ballad is surprisingly simple given Bat For Lashes’ eccentric past, but it is also very, very beautiful.

Buy @ Amazon (Available October 23, 2012)

Muruch Bat For Lashes Reviews

Bat For Lashes Official Site

Bat For Lashes: Two Suns

Bat For Lashes sophomore album Two Suns will be released on April 9th. Much like Fur and Gold, the new album simmers with theatrical percussion and vocal flights of fancy. Yet there’s a smoother production to this disc that makes it obvious Natasha Khan (the feminine force that is Bat For Lashes) has embraced the studio atmosphere as much as the dark forest she emerged from with her debut.

I was prepared to be disappointed by Two Suns when I read that Khan created the alternate persona of Pearl – a blonde vixen – to interact with herself throughout the album’s songs. Tori Amos played out that alter-ego gimmick long before Beyoncé thought of Sasha Fierce. But whatever the lyrical concept, there’s no resisting the pretty vocals and hypnotic sound of Bat For Lashes.

Natasha’s solitary voice drifts in with the haunting a capella intro of “Glass” (which lifts lines from Song of Solomon) before the drums and drama begin. The underlying melody of “Sleep Alone” recalls “Trophy”, but is buoyed by splashes of retro ’80s synth-rock.

The softer piano ballad “Moon and Moon” reveals a more fragile side to Khan’s voice and conjures up old memories of Kate Bush. And the psychedelica folk-gospel strum and hum of “Peace of Mind” is subtle and lovely.

Though the Pearl character doesn’t grab my attention like the brilliant new narrative of The Decemberists, I do like the general theme of duality in Two Suns. Khan reaches beyond her two-character story to ponder metaphysical ideas, exploring the relationships between such opposing elements as dark and light, love and pain, and peace and chaos.

The electronic Tori-fest (how sad I used to be an obsessive fan, but now use Amos as a bad example) “Pearl’s Dream” seems silly at first, but the song is transformed by catchy beats and handclaps about a minute in.

The Mazzy Star wanders into Twin Peaks style of “Good Love” and quaking percussion of “Two Planets” are much more appealing. The stand out track is the finale “The Big Sleep”, a phantasmal piano duet with Scott Walker.

Bat For Lashes Official Site

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Bat For Lashes: Fur And Gold

Bat For Lashes is the pseudonym of British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha Khan. Her debut album, Fur And Gold, has earned her comparisons to Björk as well as a Mercury Prize nomination. Both accomplishments are justified and well deserved. The tone of Khan’s voice and her flare for drama are akin to Bjork, but there’s a darkness to her eccentricity that often calls to mind PJ Harvey.

Really, though, Bat For Lashes’ music is composed of such an intricately unique layering of vocals and sounds that any comparisons to other artists are bound to fall short of the truth. Tracks like “The Horse & I” and “Trophy” stand out for their theatrical use of harpsichord and a Native American influenced drum beat. But the entire album is quite captivating, both for Khan’s lovely voice and the striking arrangements.

Bat For Lashes – The Horse & I (mp3) *

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of ToolShed Media

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