Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 4/26/09.
One of the newest artists emerging in the U.K. that doesn't fit around the mold of Amy Winehouse soul singers is Natasha Khan under her moniker Bat for Lashes. The half-Pakistani/half-English singer-songwriter has garnered some attention for her 2007 debut album Fur and Gold that's compared her to the likes of Bjork, Annie Lennox, and Kate Bush. A video release for the single What's A Girl To Do that featured Khan riding a bike with fellow people in costumes at night gave her some considerable attention. In 2009, Khan returned with her sophomore release that broadens her sound to new heights entitled Two Suns.
Written by Natasha Khan with production by Khan and David Kosten, Two Suns is an album filled with electronic music textures mixed in with folk and indie music. A conceptual record of sorts relating to the theme of duality, Khan brings in an alter-ego named Pearl to help exemplify her themes. Featuring members of Yeasayers as well as the legendary Scott Walker on a track. Two Suns is one of 2009's most surprising yet enchanting albums of the year.
The album opener Glass arrives with Natasha Khan's breathy, evocative vocal with descriptive, imagery-laden lyrics. With bass-pounding beats and washy guitar strums with chime-like percussions, it's Khan's vocals that drive the song with its dreamy vocals and wobbly bass line. With sputtering snare fills and Khan's wailing vocals, it's a song that sets the stage for all that is to come. Sleep Alone is a bouncy, mid-tempo track with twangy acoustic guitar riffs and warbling bass synthesizers. With Khan's swooning vocals and thumping bass beats with clapping beat accompaniments, the song is filled with lyrics of nighttime and loneliness. With a soothing synthesizer accompanying the chorus, it's arrangements and layered production help shape its sound.
Moon And Moon is a piano ballad with its somber, flourishing melodies performed by Khan as she sings in her breathy yet melancholic vocal tone. With its eerie, morose lyrics, it's accompanied by soft claps and backing vocals to help with its atmospheric yet dream-like tone. The first single Daniel arrives with soft, blaring synthesizers and smooth, pounding bass beats that accompanies Khan's evocative vocals filled with dreamy, romantic lyrics. With a bouncy snare beat and melodic, swooning synthesizers, the song's chorus led by Khan's enchanting vocals is carried through its production and a melodic guitar track that follows the chorus. Peace of Mind is a folky ballad with washy acoustic guitar strums with soft, warbling bass lines and pounding bass beats. With Khan's dreamy vocals with lyrics dealing with spiritual-laden lyrics and a backing choir on some parts. Its dissonant guitar performance and ethereal arrangements led by Khan's superb vocal performance makes the song a highlight.
Siren Song is a piano ballad led by Khan's haunting yet enchanting vocals with lyrics that are melancholic about day-to-day life and other thematic qualities. With the piano performance intensifying with droning bass textures in the background, it's Khan's vocals that shine in its powerful performance with siren-like performance. Even as the song returns to its somber tone with backing vocals accompanying her. Pearl's Dream is a rhythmic, bouncy track with sputtering beats, tingling percussions, and melodic synthesizers swoon. With Khan's seductive vocals with dark, worldly lyrics, it features a great chorus filled shimmering backgrounds and Khan's vocals accompanied by backing vocals with its layered yet hypnotic production. Good Love is led by a swooning organ with soft, synthesizer flourishes that play to Khan's raspy vocals. With soft, clapping percussions and Khan's swooning vocals filled with imagery, metaphoric-lyrics, it has Khan do a brief spoken word that adds a unique narrative while maintaining the song's slow yet unique arrangements.
Two Planets is a song with throbbing, pounding beats and percussion taps that accompany Khan's smooth yet ethereal vocals. With its dark, ominous lyrics and Khan's chilling vocals, its throbbing rhythm and arrangements intensify a bit, it's Khan's wailing vocals that take charge with its hypnotic approach and atmospheric production. Travelling Woman is another piano ballad with a thumping beat and swooning arrangements. With Khan's dreamy vocals and somber lyrics, it's a song that has a simple presentation while maintaining its soothing, atmospheric feel. The album closer The Big Sleep with Scott Walker is an enchanting piano-driven ballad that features Khan's ethereal vocals with Walker's more low-sounding, operatic vocal. With its droning textures in the background and mesmerizing, imagery-laden lyrics, it's a song that serves as a fitting closer to the entire album with its simple piano-ballad presentation.
Two Suns is a mesmerizing yet enchanting masterpiece from Bat for Lashes. Thanks in parts to its ethereal, dream-like production, rhythmic arrangements, and Natasha Khan's evocative vocals. With vocals reminiscent of the likes of Bjork and Annie Lennox along with music that is a style similar to those vocalists along with Kate Bush. It's a record from start to finish that grabs the listener and wouldn't let go until the end. Overall, Two Suns is one of 2009's most intoxicating records from Bat for Lashes.
Bat for Lashes Albums: Fur and Gold
(Bat for Lashes/Other Lives-8/17/09 Atlanta, GA the Loft @ Center Stage)
(C) thevoid99 2011