Album Review: Bat For Lashes
Facts about this album:
* Bat For Lashes is the stage name of Natasha Khan.
* ‘Two Suns’ is her second album, follow up to the Mercury-nominated ‘Fur And Gold’.
* The album explores the dual nature of Natasha’s personality, her alter ego being called Pearl.
After U2 and Gram Parsons, Natasha Khan is next to make the pilgrimage to the Joshua Tree for her second album. However, rather than go the whole psilocybin-and-UFO-spotting hog, she retreated to London and New York to finish the job, resulting in a split-personality LP.
Much is being made of ‘Two Suns’’ dichotomous DNA, both in its recording (the earthy Vs the mechanical, electronic Vs organic) and its subject matter (the struggle between two lovers, or between Natasha and her inner character, Pearl). Opener ‘Glass’ makes these divisions clear – its crystalline howls and tumbling drums propel an epic tale of two loves pulled together and apart like two planets. It’s an almost metaphysical conceit, but one that we’ll allow because, hey, it’s Bat For Lashes.
Casting off the shroud of intellectualisation that covers a new album from an artist hoping for a second bite of the Mercury Prize apple, ‘Two Suns’ is at its heart a brilliant pop album. Swaying from the austere beauty of Cat Power-esque piano-and-voice ditty ‘Moon And Moon’ to the epic majesty of ‘Siren Song’ via ‘Two Planets’’ digital tribalism, it peaks with the driving Fleetwood Mac-hinations of ‘Daniel’, which boasts bass from Yeasayer’s Ira Wolf Tuton.
It’s not the only place Brooklyn’s future hippies have left their mark on this album though; ‘Peace Of Mind’ recruits a gay gospel choir from New York to build a soulful crescendo, and for the closer ‘The Big Sleep’ – in a coup only a cult figurehead as Radiohead-approved as her could pull off – she persuades Scott Walker to lend his fragile croon.
‘Two Suns’ is epic in scope and ambition and requires a similarly epic patience to unravel its charms. If this year’s Mercury panel know their arse from their Elbows, this could be her time.