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Bat For Lashes

Two Suns

Astralwerks

Apr 11, 2009 Bat For Lashes Bookmark and Share


Two Suns finds Natasha Khan sharing the conceptual zeitgeist with Beyoncé by exploring her own Sasha Fierce, an alter ego named Pearl-a “destructive, self-absorbed, blond femme fatale” to contrast her everyday “mystical, desert-born spiritual self.”

It’s admittedly groan inducing, but a quick listen and you’d rush to grant Khan any suspect thematic springboard she needs (and, uh, let’s extend that to album covers as well). She remains a capable auteur, giving every aspect of her work-visual, musical, and conceptual-her own oddball stamp. Her stubborn singularity is on par with other dark iconoclasts, from the oft-cited Kate Bush or Siouxsie Sioux, to Nick Cave or Scott Walker (who appears on Two Suns’ last song).

Of course, her wicked vocal abilities don’t hurt, nor does the complexity of her arrangements, both refined substantially since 2006’s Fur and Gold. She’s also concentrated more on the rhythmic aspect, and the keen drum programming/playing is a real boon to her sound.

“Glass” starts things off with a reverb-drenched variation on the Song of Solomon (setting the duality stage) giving way to a substantially goth-y vocal climax, driven by some incredible tom work. “Sleep Alone” follows up with a crispy acoustic guitar loop, quickly joined by a sub-bass stomp under the lyrics “the dream of love is a two-hearted dream.” Are you getting a duality feeling here? “Daniel,” the album’s first single, is on par with M83 or other contemporaries’ grabs from ‘80s Erasure, New Order et al, with its big synth pads and drum-machine beat. Album closer “The Big Sleep” is truly haunting, its space pianos moving along glacially while Khan and Scott Walker trade vocals, and the character of Pearl breathes her last breath. The theatrical piece ends with a soft feedback loop and is sure to send chills down willing spines.

Two Suns is another pitch-black dream world, with Khan’s production touches-telephone EQ’d backing vox, a gospel choir, and echoes and reverbs galore among them-helping paint her enchanting pictures. Color me enchanted. (My destructive, self-absorbed alter ego Sasha Beers hates this melodramatic crap, but that’s for me to work out in therapy.) (http://www.batforlashes.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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