Bat for Lashes - The Bride

by Jim Harris Rating:5 Release Date:2016-07-01

Natasha Khan, under band name Bat For Lashes, releases her fourth album, The Bride, and it appears to be the closest she’s come to a concept album.  The concept is a simple one of exploring the mind of a bride left at the altar after the groom dies in a car wreck on the way to the wedding (If only he hadn’t been reaching for BFL’s last interesting CD, Two Suns…No, I’m just kidding, that’s not part of her concept.  But it would have provided some much needed comic relief on this one).  Since her second album, Two Suns, Khan has worked with a more minimal approach, and to some degree, her third album, The Haunted Man, produced some interesting moments, but ultimately the energetic, downright danceable structures on her first and second albums were missing.  And, truly, the minimal structures of the songs on her latest, The Bride, really need to have some life put into them.  It’s stridently dull in execution, for the most part.

Natasha Khan has been compared to the likes of Kate Bush, Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and even Tori Amos, and her voice is one beautiful voice.  With such diverse musical accompaniment as was provided from Yeasayer and the likes on her early works, her voice was captivating on ‘Daniel’ and ‘Sleep Alone.’  I was particularly enamored by the weird ending song,  ‘The Big Sleep.’

Outside of a couple tracks, ‘In God’s House’ and ‘Sunday Love’, The Bride is a difficult listen.  The concept, for one, doesn’t do too much for someone who is more interested in emotional car wrecks that pile up after a marriage.  And then you add in Khan’s penchant for odd, clichéd lyrical fancies that border more on Japanese Anime romances than anything Tori Amos, Kate Bush, or PJ Harvey would write about, and you have an agonizingly long concept album of minimal music mixed around a framework that doesn’t support Khan’s beautiful voice.

And as a concept album about love and tragic death it has too many John Hughes type high school poetics for my taste. (Moons have halos, her love is a green spirit…but I did laugh when she wrote it was so early in the morning, the birds were still in bed… of course to rhyme with dead…)  No, after the first 5 tracks, the album really bogs down.  A spoken word track filled with romantic blather stuck towards the end really bogs it down.

Ultimately, Natasha Khan takes too much artistic license and control over her rather clichéd concept.  She’s a strong and beautiful voice in need of a fuller, more expansive band.  Hopefully, she’ll keep enough of an audience, come to her senses, and expand on her first two albums.

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