Natasha Khan is Bat For Lashes, and she has released a new album “Two Suns”. Kahn is one of the most dynamic and intriguing singers in the country, her powerful and whimsical voice is an asset in itself, her ability to effortlessly shift between subtle and histrionic vocal styles is miraculous, but her real talent lies in her lyrics and song writing. Kahn can conjure powerful emotions with vivid swathes of words (“I drove past true love once, in a dream/Like a house that caught fire, it burned and flamed”). It’s all vivid imagery, almost sensual. Her songs allure the senses, both sonically and vocally.
Her lyrics give us an insight into her psyche, imagination and experiences. Her live performances amaze, entice and seduce you into her mystical world. In 2007, she transformed the stage of ‘Koko’ in Camden into enchanted woodland; she also writes all of her songs, designs the costumes that she wears on stage as well. It’s almost as if she continues to fascinate and demand your attention with music and lyrics that are as visual as watching a film.
In 2006 Kahn released her debut album “Fur and Gold”, meanwhile Razorlight and the Kooks also released new material as well, which unfortunately suffocated the British public with their dowdy sounds and tedious lyrics.
Kahn was an inspiration, offering a suitably enigmatic alternative; “Fur and Gold” appeared to be from some kind of enchanted utopia. As if the lyrics and songs were written whilst intoxicated by some Alice in Wonderland type potion. The debut album had a haunting; a celestial beauty in it, the critics accepted it and her performance at Glastonbury was confirmed. She donned a feathered headband and became a fashion icon.
Three years have passed and Kahn’s been developing her music, mind and her alter ego ‘Pearl’. Being a believer in Analytical / Jungian psychology, Kahn is influenced by her physical and mystical surroundings absorbing different elements from each place.
Kahn travelled to the US touring, inspiring, whilst visually making a mental scrapbook, putting ideas in her head, she visited Joshua Tree (US National Park) in California to absorb the desert its skies and its mystics and Brooklyn in New York to capture the electricity and grittiness of the city. Eventually returning home to start writing lyrics in her controlled environment / bedroom.
“Two Suns” is the newest addition to the Bat For Lashes legacy, and I’m glad to report it doesn’t disappoint. The album art for starters immediately presents Kahn in a surreal environment. ‘Glass’ kicks off the album beautifully, delicate vocals and synth’s slither in, heavy rolling drums begin, and shamanic instruments jingle it’s a song that burst out, unafraid, it has melody, ambition and intent. Yeah… they certainly haven’t lost their signature sound, swirling crystalline pop, haunting piano ballads, ethereal melodies swathed in shimmering keyboard.
I could compare “Two Suns” with ‘The Animal Collective’s’ “Post Merriweather Pavillion”, there’s not quite as much going on here granted but the hazy, dreamlike state it induces is near identical. At its heart, this is a pop record bursting at the seams with melody and invention. “Fur and Gold” was nominated for Mercury & Brit Awards in the UK, and a Plug Award in the US. “Two Suns” will no doubt receive its highly deserved awards.
However “Fur and Gold” and “Two Suns” are completely different from one another, moving away from the debut album’s storytelling, “Two Suns” is more emotional, human, accessible, more Pop. It’s music like this that makes me think, why is the music industry drowned by over manufactured rubbish? Put simply this is a dazzling album!