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Bat For Lashes ‘The Haunted Man’

If it was Natasha Khan’s intention to create somewhat of an online jaw-drop by posing in the nude for the cover of her third album – ‘The Haunted Man’ – then she unequivocally succeeded. The striking image of Khan – aka Bat For Lashes – standing completely in the buff, with an equally naked (haunted) man draped around her shoulders, has been the central talking point regarding her comeback. However, the image, and the beautiful Natasha Khan in general, somehow manages to transcend the expected eroticism one might expect. Perhaps because of the coldness of the black and white, or Khan’s emotionless facial expression, the image is completely unsexual, and, instead, the intended meaning of the cover has been the key talking point by fans and critics on the web – the indication that ‘The Haunted Man’ is a back-to-basics affair, stripped of much of the extravagant excesses of her last album ‘Two Suns’.

In reality, while Bat For Lashes’ third album is a more direct and raw release than her first two albums, aside from the exquisite lead single – pained piano ballad ‘Laura’ – it consists of pretty much what one would expect from the electro-goth-pop songstress. Opener ‘Lilies’ is a slow-burning amalgamation of swirling strings and horns, minimal drum programming and hypnotic synths, thickened by an intermittent growling bass line, and propelled – as always – by Khan’s fragile, piercing vocals. Single ‘All Your Gold’ is the only real moment of commercial accessibility, with its straightforward and upbeat electro-pop structure and immediate chorus. Otherwise, this a collection of leftfield pop songs, marginally darker and quieter in their simplistic tone than previous Bat For Lashes compositions.

Tracks like the downbeat title track and closer ‘Deep Sea Diver’ sound more personal in their simplicity, stripped of any babbling to feature fewer lyrics, and supported by slight electronica and soothing synths, rather than bombastic electro. When Bat For Lashes does attempt to reconstruct the dance songs of her first two albums – such as on ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Marilyn’ – they are (slightly) more restrained and (slightly) slower in pace, but no less gratifying.

Even if it perhaps doesn’t reach the highs of her previous records, ‘The Haunted Man’ is Khan’s most consistently mesmerising collection of songs, and the trimming of the unnecessary kookiness allows for a welcome maturity. The only real problem with Khan’s songs is that, despite providing a more personal context than ever before, her lyrics often remain too distant and incomprehensible in their secret concepts and flowery articulation. A more naked approach to writing her gothic poetry might make for wholly engaging experience.

Originally published by AAAmusic here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on October 18, 2012.

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