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What I’m listening to this week: Bat for Lashes

May 3, 2009

Fur and Gold – 2006

Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes has a voice that lies somewhere between Beth Gibbons and Bjork, and Fur and Gold‘s sound is somewhere between a Portishead and a Bjork album.  Fur and Gold is a mystical fantasy land, the soundscape to accompany any good princess worth her salt on her long journey, and incorporates some of the evocative electronic noise of Portishead and the powerfully raw emotion of Bjork.  In every song, there’s shades of one or the other that are inescapable.  That’s not to say that Natasha’s voice isn’t great on its own merit; being compared to Beth Gibbons and Bjork would be a complement in any book.

Fur and Gold pulls away from the obvious influences in that the album as a whole has a vivid narrative thread, conjuring up far-away places and romantically tumultuous scenarios.  Bat for Lashes reaches deep for each song, especially with “Horse and I”, “Whats A Girl To Do?”, and “Sarah”, stirring a sense of urgency with Natasha’s honest lyrics and finely produced tracks that alternate convincingly between vulnerability and powerful determination.  There are also beautifully simplistic moments: “Sad Eyes” and “Bats Mouth” are the most open songs on Fur and Gold letting tender and bruised vocals guide the course.

I know what you might be saying right now…”but AustinGirl, Bat for Lashes has a brand new album out!  Why not review it?”  Well I’ll tell ya…A: that’s not how I do.  And B: I like to start from the beginning whenever possible, or like in the case of Mercury Rev, at least several years back.  I’m especially glad when I can hear the intent of an artist so clearly on a debut album like Fur and Gold.  Natasha Khan’s vivid imagery makes me wish this album had been made when I was in middle school and prone to more fantastical flights of fancy.  Bat for Lashes certainly lacks a bit of maturity here, but Natasha’s not too many steps away from the revelatory sensibilities of Portishead and Bjork, and at this stage in her career, that can’t be a bad thing.

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