Bat For Lashes | The Haunted Man

Capitol/Parlophone (2012)
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  October 18, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

Bat For Lashes

It's no myth that artists tend to struggle with the dreaded second-album slump, but less clichéd and much more real is the third-album choke — especially when previous releases are so critically acclaimed. Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan hasn't shied away from talking about the pressure she felt when, after successive Mercury Prize nominations, she embarked on making The Haunted Man. The result is a bit more restrained than debut Fur and Gold and its equally satisfying follow-up Two Suns. But her delicate intensity still burns — even amid lines like "You're the train that crashed my heart," from the stirring first single "Laura," which could be autobiographical or simply a generalized ode to fading youth. Yes, this album is haunted, as well as exposed. That much is obvious from the much talked-about album cover, which depicts a naked Khan carrying a naked man over her shoulders. History has shown that this kind of heavy-handed imagery isn't worth squat without the music to back it up (thanks, John and Yoko's Two Virgins). But B4L delivers more than artsy nudity; she gets busy channeling Kate Bush on songs like "Rest Your Head" — managing to sing about "running up hills" without sounding desperate for something familiar to cling to. The quirky ambience is there as well, whether it's in the kettle drums echoing on "Winter Fields," the Active Child-like electro beats of "A Wall," or the chants that ruminate throughout "Oh Yeah." Khan might be getting bolder, bigger, and more experimental, but pushing past what everyone expects or wants from you as an artist sometimes works — even the third time around.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Bat For Lashes, Bat For Lashes,  More more >
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