My first proper album review in a few months! :O I’m done with finals, yay! :D
Bat For Lashes, also known as Natasha Khan, came out with Two Suns in April. It leaked in March, however, and at that time I thought it may be my favorite album of the year so far. Now it’s May, and it’s still my fave of the year so far. This is a really beautiful album, full of unique songwriting and excellent production.
“Glass” starts the album off calmly enough, before thumping drums usher in an epic storm. Khan’s deliciously visual lyrics tell an adventurous love story replete with a “knight in crystal armor” and “two suns spinning at two different speeds.” That particular lyric, though only one line in a song full of regal imagery, is probably my favorite because the words, combined with Khan’s delivery and the music sweeping around, are full of motion and energy. Next, twangy guitars and deep bass get “Sleep Alone” going. Excellently detailed percussion pushes the verses along, and once you get to the chorus – ah! “Lonely, lonely, lonely,” Khan wails, supported by heavier production and some nice, warm synths. I love the ethereal “aah” that washes over the mix after the wonderful line, “they say for every high high, there must be a low, low, low, low, low.”
A delicate piano ballad with lovely strings (or synths) for atmosphere, “Moon And Moon” features otherworldly echoes of each line in the second verse. I really like those mournful “ooh”s that make an appearance toward the end of the song. Sad lyrics about not seeing the one you love anymore might get you down, but fear not – “Daniel” will pick your spirits back up! You know that guitar lick that heralds the arrival of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”? That’s what the almost trumpet-like synthesizers that set the mood for “Daniel” remind me of. What I love about “Daniel” is that the synths aren’t really trying to sound like real instruments (except, perhaps, for the string synths that pop up every once in awhile). It’s like this song takes place in another time – another world! Love the way Khan intones “just kids in the eye of the storm” – what a great line, and fab delivery! All that greatness, plus the song’s even danceable. You can’t get any better than that!
Foreboding synths and a jangly guitar start “Peace Of Mind” off. What makes this song awesome is the gospel chorus that repeats each line Khan sings. Khan’s vocal performance is particularly dramatic in this track. I loe the dark, country-tinged sound of this one – her delivery of “peace of mind” is more a threat than a chorus! “Siren Song” is up next. You can hear some nifty flute work in this! This is sort of the calm in the storm that “Glass” started, yet the choruses are full of a restless energy, heavy with drums and dark lyrics. We bop back to dancing percussion with “Pearl’s Dream.” “A star in me needs to be free,”Khan proclaims, before mentioning battles, kingdoms, and a thousand night in the chorus. It’s all underscored by infectious beats and handclaps. Again, the synth work, which is amazing throughout Two Suns, gives this song a unique sound. The “you know that it’s time to go up” melody almost sounds like it could have been on the radio in the 1960s. Cool stuff.
Organ takes the spotlight in “Good Love,” the name of a town Khan “passed… last night in a dream” (I absolutely love her lyrics!). “Good Love” drifts lazily along, but with purpose, and before you know it “Two Planets” swings into view. A solo spoken word intro and battle-ready drums begin this track. “I am one of two planets dancing” and other magical lyrics like it soar above ringing, jingling percussion. This is more like an experience than a song – you’ll want to listen to it over and over again to hear all the neat production touches (which is true of the whole album, really!). Creepy deep vocal swoop in near the end, and then we continue our journey through Two Suns with “Travelling Woman.” It’s a song of encouragement to a, well, “travelling woman,” to, among other things, “never fall in love with potential.” Piano and a leisurely drumbeat give this a timeless, ballad-y feel. Khan’s vocals and the instrumentation become a little more aggressive about half-way through the track. The track quietly but prettily ends on a fade-out.
The album closes with “The Big Sleep.” Wonderfully theatrical, this one, with lyrics about “spotlights coming down from heaven” and the acknowledgement that “it’s curtains-down time.” Khan’s lovely voice is joined by Scott Walker’s deep, dark vocals on this eerie and engaging closing track. The last half of the track features just a haunting solo piano, and ends with some kind of synthesized white noise pulses.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Bat For Lashes’ 2006 debut, Fur And Gold, failed to win me over. Two Suns, however, has got me positively Batty! Check this album out on iTunes or in stores. :D