Inspired by 1980s cinema, Natasha Khan's fifth album is a widescreen reimagining of her trademark danceable sound, though the underlying menace remains
After moving from the mild and leafy north London to the sunnier climbs of Los Angeles, multi-Mercury nominee Natasha Khan – aka Bat For Lashes – found herself using the landscape of her new home as a canvas to paint a whole new world, albeit one based on something comfortingly familiar.
Inspired by LA’s peachy sunsets, wide open spaces and the locals’ sense of positivity and adventure, Khan was taken back to the endless possibilities of classic ‘80s kids films. We’re talking The Lost Boys, Never Ending Story, The Goonies, The Flight Of The Navigator, Labyrinth and The Karate Kid. These were movies where it was always the young who were right; they were the heroes and any sense of reality or cynicism could go straight to hell.
From there, she wrote a screenplay about a girl called Nikki who becomes obsessed with alien sightings and befriends a local lad whose town is being terrorised by some ghostly girls on bikes. Together, they set out to solve the mystery before finding themselves in the captivity of the spooky cyclists. Sounds like the perfect John Hughes’ script, eh? Well, it started out as something for the big screen before the soundtrack took hold and the album ran away with itself .
In keeping with the ‘80s halcyon palette, the music on ‘Lost Girls’ is a mix of fist-clenching, heroic moments (album highlight ‘So Good’), retro-futuristic sci-fi synths (‘Jasmine’) and swooning romance (‘Mountains’). ‘Kids In The Dark’ sees young lovers dreaming “lying next to you” for “we could be on the moon”.
‘The Hunger’ adds a little of that danceable menace that Khan perfected on with fan favourites ‘Daniel’ and ‘All Your Gold’, but here it’s much more widescreen. ‘Feel For You’ brings slashes of ‘Let’s Dance’-era Bowie and ‘Batdance’ Prince rhythms, while ‘Desert Man’ has the lush longing of ‘Laura’, but with bigger hair and wide shoulder pads.
Khan promises that a full ‘Lost Girls’ feature film will eventually come one day, but for now she’s given us a whole world to get lost in. Across her four previous records, Bat For Lashes framed her dance music with fairytale glam and star-gazing pop, characters and concepts, growing wiser each time. Here, on her most consistent work to date, she’s still dramatic, seductive and theatrical, but fully cut loose. This is Khan’s own heroic moment.