Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

Two Suns by Bat For Lashes is the follow up to the Mercury nominated Fur and Gold. The debut was a slow burner, that peaked in popular and critical acclaim during the run up to the Mercury Awards. With Two Suns, Natasha Khan drops the more baroque elements of her debut and replaces it with ethereal synth sounds, tribal dynamic beats and in places a lush pop sensibility. On Two Suns her voice engages with a constantly alluring and warm tone that in places replicates the echoing mysticism of Enya and Clannad.

The cover of Two Suns depicts Khan on the front and on the reverse her new alter ego; a blonde wigged white faced woman named Pearl. The idea is that Pearl represents the destructive, self absorbed, drama prone side of Khan‘s id, to Khan’s rational nature loving superego, and that much of the album is formed around these two personalities. A concept album then ? Quite possibly. Pretentious ? Almost definitely.

No matter how much thought has gone in to the concept of an album, if it doesn’t deliver musically then it’s all going to be worthless. Luckily for the most part Two Suns does deliver, albeit Khans song writing remains very much of a leftfield style and there are several fillers. There are simple piano ballads such as Moon and Moon, the haunting beats and electronica of Pearl’s Dream and the rhythmic strangeness of Two Planets which sounds like something Bjork would happily have recorded. Scott Walker also makes the briefest of appearances on closing song The Big Sleep where it seems that Khan puts Pearl to rest with lyrics about “curtains down time” and “the last show.”

Two Suns is a well crafted slightly peculiar album, that is unlikely to propel Bat For Lashes into the full mainstream. There is however enough here to satisfy, without it ever having the same impact that the debut had.

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