Natasha Khan - or Bat For Lashes as you will know her - is quite a strange young lady.
Her first album Fur And Gold featured many tracks crafted around dreams, ideas and fables; this record in question touches on similar ground. A split personality of Khan by the name of Pearl is brought to life as well as creative stories and outlandish tales from every corner of her imagination.
The problem is: if you aren’t listening intently, then none of that would really be noticeable. The underlying plot and subtexts are there, they’re just buried underneath a shiny exterior that pleasures the ears and burns rather slowly.
The album's introduction Glass is a fantastic track and a perfect beginning to an album which sounds relatively similar for its entire duration. The percussion raises the listener's pulse with an ominously loud presence while the vocals and rhythm hypnotize and seduce. It’s ridiculously atmospheric and is a flawless example of the album's sonic intentions.
What’s immediately apparent is that she hasn’t changed her sound much. There’s a particular type of production on the record that was present on Fur And Gold and though it doesn’t detriment this album, it could’ve certainly benefited from a little diversity. You won’t necessarily find the music boring but that’s not to say that you won’t skip a few songs due to their repetitive nature.
The record's first single Daniel is a highlight, though it doesn’t immediately seem like a stand-out until further listens. The hazy vocals and almost dance-like rhythm seem to sit uncomfortably together until you return a little later and find yourself nodding and smiling at how brilliantly odd and endearing the song actually is. The subtle string pickings and distant electronic echoes strengthen the song's mood without becoming overbearing, which, slowly but surely, becomes the main strength of the track as a whole.
The music flips between dark and light whenever it chooses and the more listens you give each track, the more detailed the atmosphere surrounding the CD becomes. It’s a city with a decimated skyline and a twisted sense of hope; it’s a forest fire at night, with no one to witness; It’s lonely and confident, desperate and relaxed: all at once.
Bat For Lashes is a strange artist and her music reflects her image brilliantly. She sits comfortably on the alternative side of indie and pop and holds an honesty in her voice which aids her in standing head and shoulders above the slew of other female artists that are currently cluttering our musical airwaves (Kate Nash, Lilly Allen, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, need we go on?) and that fact alone is worth a couple of extra brownie points.
Whether you find her music a little too simplistic and repetitious or both ethereal and emotive is down to you because as far as we are concerned, it’s both. Some songs will fail to conjure anything but a nod (Good Love doesn’t have the punch the other songs possess) whereas others could amaze (Pearls Dream is ridiculously old-school and Two Planets has a strange but brilliant tribal feel to it) and it’s this flaw that makes the album such an interesting listen.
Love it or hate it, it’s still a pretty great follow-up to a damn great record which solidifies Bat For Lashes as a serious musician who holds infinitely more talent than the fake, embarrassing entertainers who surround her.