After time spent dabbling with the Sexwitch side-project, Natasha Khan returns to her original moniker for the first Bats For Lashes album in 4 years. At the core of the record is the dark tale of The Bride, a figure whose husband-to-be is killed in a car crash: a suitable narrative for Khan’s darkly ornate, shiny-black production style. On Parlophone.
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 28 June 2016
I always get a frisson of excitement at a new Bat For Lashes album despite only enjoying a small percentage of her work. Her ‘Two Suns’ album was rather delicious but since then…hmmm. Well the best thing she has done of late has been the Sexwitch product in which she seemed free of the shackles that seems to have made Bat For Lashes a rather safe proposition. Thankfully she’s not decided to go naked on this sleeve but on the rear cover she seems to have got all tangled up in some kind of neckerchief.
The album has been made to run alongside a film Natasha Khan has written about a bride who is jilted at the alter when her husband to be is killed in a car smash. So far, so Kate Bush in theatrical mode and the album immediately has a rock opera feel about it. Khan’s voice is as always a delicious thing but the music is rather one paced at times. The most striking track in the early part of the album is ‘In God’s House’ in which the actual crash that turns the story happened and and with additional synths fluttering away Khan successfully conveys the emotions of the confused, grieving bride. The album then follows the bride on a honeymoon alone and this is where everything becomes a bit too much hard work. Firstly the narrative is a little too staid and the conceptual nature of the record makes you feel you are trapped in some kind of terminable am/dram performance. Lyrics are occasionally really clunky (for example do birds 'go to bed' as she suggests?)
There are a few highlights though ‘Sunday Love’ is much needed upbeat track with helps counteract the dreary sludge of some of the earlier tracks. The other main problem is just that the album is far too long. I feel rather exhausted by all the emoting and there’s still hours of this to get through. The latter half of the record is quivering ballad after quivering ballad, it’s like a whole album of ’This Woman’s Work’ and so to enjoy the record you’ll have to be a) on board with the concept and b) prepared for lots of emoting. She’s good at this kind of stuff though and as I've pointed out in previous reviews she stands head and shoulders above most other warbly singer songwriters. Here she asks listeners to follower her to some quite self absorbed, quite theatrical places and this album won’t be for the casual listener.
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