14 March 2009

Review: Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

Originally featured in Epigram

“It seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales,” said Thom Yorke of Natasha Khan’s enchanting music when he chose Bat For Lashes to support Radiohead, and on ‘Two Suns’, the fantastical elements that danced through her debut remain, but with a poetic maturity and strength that rather more resemble the complex stories of Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’ than childlike naivety - bewitching the listener with her haunting, almost lonely exploration the duality of self, gender, and psychogeography. 

Lead single ‘Daniel’ arrives on a cinematic sunrise fanfare, building tentatively with Khan’s sultry English diction and the dark glamour of a 1980s music matriarch. Moments of macabre formality surface on ‘Sleep Alone’ as a looping sitar courts a proud bass note, and again on final track, ‘The Big Sleep’, an eerie coda where Scott Walker moans the ghostly lament of a drag queen’s last hurrah. Yeasayer appear on beat duties throughout, firing booming tribal canons across the sparkling dual landscapes that Khan so vividly conjures – she celebrates the “thousand crystal towers” of her former home, New York, on the piercing ‘Glass’, and orchestrates a dusty spiritual ‘60s ritual on ‘Peace of Mind’, guitars rattling with ramshackle familiarity. There’s a newfound strength in her vocals too, which glower lupine and sensual through the forests of ‘Moon and Moon’, accompanied by a chorus of haunting sylphs. 

“I got fed up of everyone thinking I was this mystical creature that drinks unicorns’ tears for breakfast!” she said of her debut, and as she smoulders, “I’m evil” at the end of the arresting ‘Siren Song’, it’s clear that on ‘Two Suns’, Natasha Khan is the wolf in grandmother’s clothing not to be underestimated.


1 comment:

Citizen Meh said...

Nice review. I'm intrigued by this even though the debut never clicked with me (not least because Yeasayer are involved)- will have to investigate further...