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BAT FOR LASHES Two Suns Parlophone (2008)

Bat For Lashes

Not to be confused with Bad Lashes - the 'hairdresser' girl band featured on the last series of Pop Idol - Bat For Lashes aka Brighton based Natasha Khan is a 'serious' artist.

Her debut album Fur And Gold (2007) was highly critically acclaimed, earning a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize and Brit Award nominations for Best Breakthrough and Best Female. But those sort of accolades can be the kiss of death.

Oft mentioned in the same breath as Bjork, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, Two Suns is an ambitious piece of pop/rock. Complex, yet accessible, light yet dark. A Hounds Of Love for a new generation.

Often piano based, but with all manner of electronica and some superb musicianship, Khan manages to pull off the same trick as Bush - being able to combine commerciality with serious experimentation. The lead single Daniel, with its Fleetwood Mac bass line, being a particularly good example. Pearl's Dream is also a strong contender for a single release.

On first listening, you're overwhelmed by the sheer depth of the album. It has an almost ugly beauty to it that makes you feel compelled to return, even if you're not quite sure why.

And those repeated listens reveal layer upon layer, each play exposing a new facet. On several tracks Natasha is joined by Brooklyn psychedelic experimentalist Yeasayer who provided bass and beat programming, while Scott Walker duets on the album closing operatic torch song The Big Sleep. And if that's not enough, an all black, gay gospel choir make an appearance on Peace Of Mind.

Rhythmic beats supplement Natasha's falsetto vocals, and delicate keyboard work. How Madonna must wish she had material like this in her Ray Of Light period, and for once, the inevitable critical acclaim that Two Suns will most surely generate, will be entirely justified.

An album that demonstrates that British talent remains at the forefront of progressive experimental pop.


Review by Pete Whalley

GRTR! Recommended

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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