Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

The career trajectory of Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes is an odd one.

Label: EMI

Rating: 7

The career trajectory of Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes is an odd one. Having emerged as a cult act in 2006 with her single ‘The Wizard’ and then the album ‘Fur and Gold’ Khan was establishing herself at a gentle and organic pace. Then came the Mercury nomination in 2007 (pitting her against Amy Winehouse and the eventual winners Klaxons) along with the BRITs who included her in their short-list for Best Female and Best Newcomer in the same year. This took an underground artist relatively mainstream, with Khan’s unique fashion sense aped by teenage girls the country over and numerous cuts from ‘Fur & Gold’ popping up as incidental music on TV shows. Now album two has more to live up to than anyone involved would presumably have ever imagined.

‘Two Suns’ is an impressive follow up - boasting forays into more mainstream sounds alongside the ethereal twinkling showcased on the first album. Album number two also has a few points of interest before you even press play, mainly the duets with Scott Walker and Yeasayer as well as the musical move du-jour; the dual personality. Like Beyonce / Sasha Fierce this album is not just the work of Natasha Khan, certain tracks are possessed by the spirit of ‘Pearl’ Khan’s hedonistic alter ego dreamed up in drink fuelled nights in Williamsburg, New York.

The breaks between characters are not made too obvious audibly though. Much of ‘Two Suns’ operates like ‘Fur & Gold’, the character of Pearl does not bring furious punk thrashings or drum’n’bass to the table. ‘Siren Song’ is Pearl’s biggest moment as it were and it is standard Bat For Lashes breathy and atmospheric creep-folk. However ‘Pearl’s Dream’ is a afro-beat, psych dance moment of brilliance. Yeasayer’s influence, whilst not over bearing, is noticeable throughout specifically on the more tribal elements of the LP (‘Glass’, ‘Two Planets’) providing a sturdy backdrop for Khan’s waif-like vocals. The final track is the much talked about Scott Walker duet ‘The Big Sleep’. After ten tracks of pretty, feminine vocals to hear Walker interjecting with his baritone and morose warbling is both a welcome change and disturbing shift in emotions. Noticeably, it’s about as far removed from Last Shadow Puppet’s territory as you can get.

Critically speaking ‘Two Suns’ perhaps fails to take advantage of the more accessible elements of the Bat For Lashes sound, a few tracks (‘Good Love’ ‘Travelling Woman’) evaporate into the ether entirely. Perhaps an album more in line with the lead single ‘Daniel’ would have truly impressed this critic however the most admirable quality Khan has is that she is seemingly from another world. Whether it is Khan or Pearl you are listening to on ‘Two Suns’ you can’t help but be transported there.