Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bat For Lashes

I absolutely hate it when this happens. I got the Bat For Lashes album Fur and Gold a good six months ago. Yet for some reason, I only listened to it last week. Actually, I know why. Too much music. Too many new albums, too many old albums, too many mixes, too many MP3s, too many damn podcasts. Make it stop. Except you don't want it to stop, because you might miss an album like this.

I think the problem must have been the initial reviews damned it with faint praise: "Bjork-lite", "Batty by name, batty by nature", "weird". I should have known then that this was laziness of the first order (I've never been lazy when it comes to describing music, no sir, no way). It's true up to a point that singer Natasha Khan has a singing timbre not a million miles from Bjork's - but to compare to Bjork suggests a similarity of styles that really isn't there most of the time (especially not in later Bjork).

What is similar is a sense of listening to something both precious and mysterious, full of meaning that can't quite be grasped. "Creatures of mercy/Shoot them down, set me free," sings Khan with the kind of conviction that Bjork brought to songs like "Isabelle" and, especially, "Pagan Poetry". And "Tahiti" has the same crystalline beauty of Vespertine's best songs. But mostly I'm hearing the magic and sensuality of Kate Bush. In other places, there's a similarity to Goldfrapp's first album; plush and romantic, full of harpsichords and plucked strings, sinuous Theremins and harmonies, kettle drums, spoken word interludes.

Either way, the album is like stepping into the kind of dream I would have when I was young, full of forests and wolves and hunters and danger.

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