Bat For Lashes’ second album ‘Two Suns’ is not out until April – but we received an advance copy this morning.

Initial reaction? Well, anyone who heard Natasha Khan’s recent cover of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ will be unsurprised to learn that there’s a heavy ’80s synth-pop influence.

Bat For Lashes

At the same time, if Parlophone (who snapped Khan up in the wake of debut album ‘Fur And Gold”s sleeper success) were hoping for a Feist-style mainstream breakthrough, they’ll be disappointed.

It’s a bleak and sometimes difficult album, pitched somewhere between the crepuscular, ‘Wicker Man’ pastoral of Goldfrapp’s ‘Seventh Tree’, and the flinty, minimalist emotional bloodletting of PJ Harvey’s ‘White Chalk’.

Bearing in mind it’s the kind of record that will no doubt unfold its secrets only after repeat plays, here are a few first-listen highlights to whet your appetite.

Heavily rhythmic opener, built around an insistent, tribal beat on the toms. The outro features a doom-laden, Cure-like bass line – the natural progression from her cover of ‘A Forest’.

Moon And Moon
A breathy-voiced piano ballad in the mould of ‘Sad Eyes’, complete with a ‘Priscilla’-style 3rd-person lyric.

The first single, due in March. Opens with a synth-brass fanfare before settling into a sleek groove that recalls the twinkly, ethereal bits of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tango In The Night’. Continues Khan’s habit of writing about men as if they’re supernatural beings – part wizard, part wild beast.

Peace of Mind
Initially just harpsichord and vocal, there’s an intimate, ‘live’ quality to the production, as if recorded at home. Gradually, gospel backing vocals enter the mix, recalling Blur’s ‘Tender’.

Pearl’s Dream
Another insistent bass line, nervy and forbidding. The most ’80s thing on here – but obviously in the Depeche Mode, ‘Black Celebration’ sense, rather than the ‘Club Tropicana’ sense.